Sapulpa City Council addresses misinformation campaign regarding 2-cent sales tax

The City Council and administration of Sapulpa bolstered their non-partisan stance at the local level during Monday’s City Council Study Session in response to a flyer that was circulated among residents late last week. This paper contained what city officials described as “misinformation” said it was intended to inject partisan politics into the city.

Sapulpa, per state statute and city charter, has been and will continue to be non-partisan in elections and politics. The council assured that registered parties aren’t as important as the people behind them, and they hope faithful Sapulpan voters can look past colors and labels and vote based on merit. 

A screenshot from the misinformation “voters guide” that was distributed to residents.

Regarding the two-cent tax, information has been varied across sources and could be confusing, but David Widdoes, Sapulpa City Attorney, presented the absolute facts at their city council meeting Monday evening. First, Widdoes pointed out that ‘perpetuity’ does not mean ‘forever’ in that the issue is final and can never be brought back up. Voting the tax into perpetuity would save money from possibly costly elections and the time it takes from the council, but at any point in time the council can repeal the tax, or residents of Sapulpa can petition for a new election on the tax.

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Thirty percent of the City’s revenue is dependent on the two-cent sales tax and is thoroughly budgeted along with the rest of Sapulpa’s income. Without it, the city would have to figure out how to generate the missing funds through raised utility costs or slash the budget significantly affecting jobs and services. “It’s not a matter of want, it’s a matter of need,” said city manager Joan Riley.

Out of 510 cities in Oklahoma, whether sliced it by County, Metro area, or population size, Sapulpa sits comfortably right in the middle on all lists regarding sales tax amounts, not breaking the top 20% of the highest sales tax in the state. Sapulpa is also the only metro area city that doesn’t have a two to three-cent perpetual sales tax, and having a perpetual tax allows the city to maintain a more accurate long-term budget. When applying for grants or funds that have thirty-year notes, but the sales tax which accounts for a large amount of the city’s revenue only goes fifteen years, it lowers the rating for the city for bonds. 

Carla Gunn also personally addressed the City Council and the flyer, saying she has always had a deep-rooted love for this city and the people. Gunn warned of untruths and falsehoods that are being spread to disparage her and what she’s done for the city and recounted the threats and harshness she’s received during her career—strangers telling her she and her ancestors “should be ashamed,” for example. Gunn continued to say we shouldn’t allow a few people spreading misinformation to divide the city: “Sapulpans cling to the community standards of helpfulness and togetherness,” she said.

She has faith Sapulpans will recognize propaganda and vote truthfully, and not based on race, gender, or political party, but on merit, capability, and the person. She says that people don’t always have to agree, and will not always agree, but it’s important to remain respectful and understanding of each other. “There is no Republican or Democratic way to pick up trash,” Gunn said, “we should reject attempts to inject partisan politics.” 

The city council read a statement to further prove they have no intention of splitting by party and are determined to remain a non-partisan political body. Their interests are in the city, not Federal level politics where party lines are dividing people and spreading mistrust and anger in the political system. The City aims to do the best by their residents and citizens of this city, and hope Sapulpans can continue to gather as a community, help each other, and become stronger through that. 

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