Pawhuska voters to decide sales tax questions

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

Pawhuska voters have been called on each of the past two months (September and October) to decide questions of public importance, and they’ll be called on one more time in 2019.

Voters will be asked to approve extending two existing sales taxes. If the measures are approved, taxes will not go up. Rather, they will remain the same.

On Tuesday, Nov. 12, voters will be asked for their permission to continue charging a quarter-penny of municipal sales tax that raises money for economic-development efforts, and three-quarters of a penny that raises money for road, curb and sidewalk construction and maintenance.

Pawhuska city councilors voted unanimously in September to seek the reauthorization of the sales taxes, which have been in place since the 1980s. If voters approve the tax extensions, that authority would last for five years, through Dec. 31, 2024.

To clarify, the three-quarter-penny sales tax to pay for street construction and resurfacing dates back to 1984 and will expire Dec. 31, 2019, unless the public approves extending it. The council voted to seek an extension through Dec. 31, 2024.

The quarter-penny sales tax to pay for an economic-development program dates back to 1989 and will expire Dec. 31, unless Pawhuska voters approve extending it. The council voted to seek an extension through Dec. 31, 2024.

City Manager Dave Neely said the quarter-penny for economic development brings in about $120,000 in annual revenue. The actual number for the 2018-19 fiscal year was slightly in excess of $121,000, he said. The actual number for the 2018-19 fiscal year for the three-quarter penny assessment for road construction and maintenance was just over $363,000, he said.

Collections for the 2019-20 fiscal year are running about four percent ahead of previous figures, Neely said.

There was very light turnout for a Sept. 10 vote on a school transportation bond for Pawhuska Public Schools. The bond issue was approved, but only 174 ballots were cast.

Turnout was much heavier — a little under 600 ballots cast — when Pawhuska voters on Oct. 8 rejected a campaign to recall four members of the City Council.

Call the Osage County Election Board at 918-287-3036 if you have questions about voting.