Small Town Considers Doubling Sales Tax

Monday, February 2nd 2009, 7:53 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

WASHINGTON, Oklahoma -- The economic downturn has a small town considering doubling its sales tax.

The town of Washington, about 30 miles south of Oklahoma City in McClain County, has one of the lowest sales tax rates in the state at only two percent.

Only three businesses collect sales tax, totaling about $6,000 a month.

Town officials said it's not enough revenue to support city services for their 400 residents and pay down a $1 million sewer improvement debt.

"People are moving in, but we don't have the sewer," Town Trustee Dorothy Thomas said.

Thomas and other town leaders are advocating for the sales tax increase, but some business owners see a dilemma in the plan.

"As a business owner, I guess it kind of goes both ways," said Blythe Wilson of Althea's Vault. "It means more revenue for our city. On the other hand, I need more businesses. I'd like more businesses in town and things like that to participate and build up the town of Washington."

Other Washington residents, like Richard Hastings, remember the time when the town was prosperous and booming.

"I've got a picture of downtown Washington, and there was about three banks there and four hotels," Hastings said.

Washington is an aging community, where seniors would probably have to bear much of the extra two cents in tax.

"It would probably hurt some of them because we don't get a raise much on your Social Security," Washington resident Loweta Coffman said. "It would probably hurt them, it's not going to impact me that much."

Before a city-wide vote on doubling the sales tax, Washington will hold a public hearing where all the citizens can contribute their opinions.

No date has been set for a vote on the tax increase.