The Pryor Times

November 3, 2012

Commissioners ask for road funds

Staff Writer
Ted King

PRYOR — Mayes County Commissioners have proposed a sales tax increase of three-eighths of a percent. That would double the current tax, which is currently three-eighths of a percent, for the improvement of county roads.

The money would go toward the purchase of gravel, oil and other materials for road improvements. District 3 County Commissioner Ryan Ball said it will be interesting to see what the voters do. “If it passes, we’ll have better roads,” he said.

This tax has its opponents, including Pryor jeweler Ivan Pace and Pryor Mayor Jimmy Tramel. Tramel said if voters approve this county tax increase, the rate of sales tax in Pryor will reach 10 percent. In Adair, Chouteau, Locust Grove and Salina, sales tax would exceed 10 percent.

In the past Tramel encouraged Pryor voters to extend a half-cent sales tax for the improvement of streets, repairs to the recreation center and to build a new city hall in June of 2011. “I encourage everybody to go out and vote for it,” Tramel said at the time.

Pace opposes the increase because he believes some of his customers may go outside the country to purchase jewelry. Pace cites the number of vacant store fronts along Graham Ave. as an example of why voters should not pass this county-wide tax hike. At Christmas time, Pace’s son Kerry said that customers might spend $1,000 on jewelry, which would cost $100 in sales tax.

In Adair, Chouteau, Locust Grove and Salina the sales tax rate is 9.875 percent.

Sales tax in Pryor is 9.625 percent. If voters approve the increase, sales taxes will be a full 10 percent. A hundred dollars worth of purchases in Pryor today costs an additional $9.63 in sales tax for a total of $109.63. If the voters approve the new tax, the cost will be a full $10 in sales tax for a total of $110.

If this increase of .375 percent for roads is approved, sales taxes in Adair, Chouteau, Locust Grove and Salina will reach 10.25 percent. Currently, a $100 purchase in any of those towns has a sales tax of $9.88, totaling $109.88. Should voters approve the new tax for country roads, the total on purchases in those communities would come to 10.25 percent. On a $100 purchase add $10.25 to the bill bringing the $100 purchase to $110.25

Consumers would pay 37 cents more on a $100 purchase.

District 2 County Commissioner Darrell Yoder said voters need to pass this increase. “Right now we are just maintaining the roads,” he said. Yoder says that county tax is 1 3/8 percent sales tax and of that, only 3/8 of one percent goes to county roads. That tax has been in place for over 25 years and has not gone up in that time.

Yoder said the cost of materials has increased greatly since 1986. The county is paying $60,000 more in fuel cost than four years ago. Road oil has risen 70 cents per gallon to $2.15 in a six-year period.

Yoder said the cost of turning one mile of gravel road into an oil and chip road is $45,000, which does not include labor, fuel or equipment. Yoder said the budget constraints he faces only allow him to maintain roads.

Locust Grove voters will be asked for a sales tax extension of one percent. The town wants to use one third of this money for bridge, road, street and sidewalk improvements; one third for the town general fund; and one third for the fire and police departments and civil defense. If voters do not approve the sales tax, the rate will drop to three percent.  It should be noted that in all of these communities sales tax is tallied on county, state and municipal taxes. Locust Grove town sales tax is four percent now.