JAY, Okla. – Delaware County residents will vote on June 28 on whether to extend a half-cent sales tax to help with the upkeep and maintenance of the county’s roads and bridges.
In 2011, voters approved a 17-year half-cent “Sin” sales tax to pay off a $13.5 civil rights judgment. The lawsuit centered around allegations by former female inmates who accused two former sheriff’s employees of sexual assault and wrongdoing.
The sales tax enacted in 2012 is expected to fall off the books in September seven years earlier than expected.
“Most of the county’s roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair,” said David Poindexter, commissioner chairman.
Poindexter was quick to point out that the sales tax is a “continuation” and “not a tax increase.”
Continuing the “Sin” tax would generate about $2 million per year, he said. Each of the three road districts would receive around $40,000 to $50,000 in additional funds each month, Poindexter said.
All of the funds collected will go to maintenance and operation of the Delaware county road system, including the purchase of asphalt, gravel, concrete, and engineering plans, he said.
There are approximately 1,161.8 miles of roads within the county’s 792 square miles. It is estimated that it costs more than $150,000 a mile to do an asphalt overlay and $25,000 a mile for a gravel road, Poindexter said.
“Delaware County is unique,” Poindexter said. “We have a lot of tourists sales tax revenue every year that could be applied to the maintenance and operation of the very roads they drive on.”
“None of the property tax dollars collected goes towards the road maintenance program,” Poindexter said.
County roads and bridges have three major funding sources, motor fuel taxes, gross production taxes, and fees charged for certain vehicle transactions, he said. Cherokee Nation, FEMA, and other outside funding sources have been great partners but they are generally for special projects, Poindexter said.
Poindexter said the added monthly revenue from the sales tax would allow the road districts to have a more proactive approach to maintaining the county road and bridge systems instead of reactive.
The Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved a ballot measure in March to extend the half-cent sales tax to fund the maintenance of the county’s roads and bridges, he said.
All the surrounding counties have a sales tax for road and bridge maintenance except Delaware County.