Voters In Wagoner County To Decide On Sales Tax Increase Next Week

Wagoner County voters will soon decide on a sales tax increase, which would be used to pay for things like a new ambulance service, road improvements and upgrades to the courthouse. But there’s opposition to the proposals by residents, one of the commissioners and the fire departments in the area. 

Wednesday, February 28th 2024, 5:24 pm

By: Cal Day


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Wagoner County voters will soon decide on a sales tax increase, which would be used to pay for things like a new ambulance service, road improvements and upgrades to the courthouse.

But there’s opposition to the proposals by residents, one of the commissioners and the fire departments in the area. 

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County leaders in favor of the propositions say the county is in desperate need of the ambulance service and other upgrades. 

Others agree with the idea but say there are much better ways to make improvements without raising taxes. 

Brent Watson has already made up his mind ahead of Election Day. 

He has spent time canvassing his neighborhood encouraging other people to vote no on each of the seven propositions. 

"This’ll be the third time my sales tax has been raised in like the last 10 years where I live if this passes," said Wagoner County resident Brent Watson.

Watson crunched the numbers for himself and said the half-penny sales tax increase would put some of the city rates among the highest in the country. 

"We’re supposedly a conservative state but a 10.3 percent tax rate is too much, to me it’s intolerable and it’s time to say no to new taxes," Watson said.

Two of the three county commissioners approved the proposals to go before voters. 

They include making the current rate permanent for roads and the sheriff’s office operations. 

The propositions also include establishing a jail trust, new county fairgrounds and making upgrades to the courthouse.

District One Commissioner James Hanning was the odd man out during those initial discussions. 

"Well, how are we putting this to a ballot measure when I don’t even know what is being proposed and how it would impact all of us," Hanning said.

Hanning says he was left out of the conversation and has questions about who county leaders worked with to design the propositions. 

He says the proposal to extend ambulance services is coming at the cost of cutting in half the amount of sales tax money that is currently divided up among the county’s 14 fire departments. 

Hanning says that loss of money could be devastating. 

"The volunteer departments that we have in the rural area, that’s their meat and potatoes," he said.

Hanning agrees there are ways to improve the county, but wants it to be in a more transparent way with a better plan. 

Election Day is Tuesday, March 5th.

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