The Pryor Times

October 20, 2013

Chouteau tax jump moves to ballot

Staff Writer
Cydney Baron

PRYOR, OK — Chouteau could see its first tax increase in 13 years.

At the Chouteau Board of Trustees meeting Monday, Mayor Jerry Floyd presented the suggestion to the board to increase the city tax by half a cent.

Floyd said the town has not had an increase in sales tax since before he became mayor .

“We’ve been running short on money,” said Floyd. “Since before I got here we’ve been running on a three percent tax and our numbers are way down.”

Floyd said should the board approve, the matter could be put to the vote in the next available election, Feb. 11, 2014.

“Raising it half a cent will be enough to get our heads above water. I’d like to see us do it,” said Floyd.

With no further discussion, the board voted in favor of placing the item on the next ballot.

This increase would bring the city sales tax to over 10 percent.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission shows Chouteau’s current city rate at an even four percent. That rate, combined with the county rate of 1.375 percent and a state rate of 4.5 percent, gives the city its current total of 9.875 percent sales tax.

The increase would give Chouteau the highest sales tax in Mayes County. Currently Adair, Locust Grove and Salina all have the same sales tax of 9.875 percent. Langley, Spavinaw, Pensacola and Sportsmen Acres all have 8.875 percent rates. Pryor’s current sales tax is 9.625.

When asked if he believes the citizens of Chouteau will vote in favor of increasing the sales tax to 10 percent, Floyd said, “I have no idea, it’s just something we need.”

Floyd said the increased tax will provide a much-needed increase in revenue for the city.

“We’re just barely holding our heads above water. Prices have gone up and we’re still operating like we did 20 years ago.

“Yeah, we probably will be the highest in the county but it’s something we need,” said Floyd.

The city could be facing additional expenses with the recent annexation of multiple properties into the city limits. State statute says a city must provide the necessary infrastructure to any property annexed into the city limits within five years of annexation. Essentially, a city would have to provide water, gas, sewer and power lines to the property.

“Immediately we have to furnish the police department and fire department,” said Floyd. “That property may get a business moved in and the city will have to provide utilities to the property.”

When asked if the city can shoulder that expense, Floyd said “there are existing water lines out there already.”

Later in the meeting Floyd began discussion of a monthly maintenance agreement with a signal service company for traffic signals at Main Street and Highway 69, Harrison Street and Highway 69 and the two school flashers, at $90 a month. The money came from the town’s street and alley fund.

The board approved paying Anne Marie Elfrink, CPA, $6,600 for the audit of the 2013/2014 budget.

The cost will be divided between the Town of Chouteau and the Chouteau Public Works Authority.

After returning from a lengthy executive session, the board voted to accept the resignation of Chouteau Police Officer Kyle Murry and hire Officer Thomas Fisher. The board approved the resignation of Animal Control Officer Tony Baez and hired Lisa Michael. Fisher will be paid $13.50 per hour effective Oct. 16 and Michael will be paid $500 per month, effective immediately.

Floyd concluded the meeting with his Mayor’s Report. He said the town needs to get a planning and zoning board together to discuss property that has recently been annexed into city limits.

Floyd said there was a lot of vandalism at the city park over the weekend. He said the board is working on a solution and he would hate to have to lock up the restrooms and pavilions at night, but that might become necessary.

“And I’d like to say I'm really proud of the way the town pulled together for this bond vote. Getting a nice looking school is good for everyone,” said Floyd.