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Elgin Residents to Vote on Tax Increase

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ELGIN Okla_ Elgin residents may see as much as a one-penny increase in their sales tax. It would raise money for improvements to their streets and city parks.

Next week, they'll have the chance to vote on that. Mayor Larry Thoma said the city has not had a sales tax increase in 20 years. There will actually be two questions on the ballot. One would allow for a .25% hike for the city's parks and recreation facilities. The other is a .75% increase for the streets. 

Thoma said if approved, the percentage allocated for the parks and recreation will continue for a five-year period, bringing in about $300,000. He said the percentage allocated for the streets would continue over a ten-year period, bringing about $2M. He said Elgin's growth is steady enough to bring revenue from outsiders spending money in the city, easing the tax burden for residents.

Take a drive through Elgin. There are signs of growth everywhere you turn, from the commerce, to the school and the neighborhoods.

Elgin Mayor Larry Thoma said that growth comes with growing pains: repairs that need to be done. It's up to city officials to find a way to pay for them.

"We do have a five-year capital improvement plan that looks at fire trucks, rolling stock, police cars, public works, and vehicles," Thoma said. "We recently put shades at the ballparks. The problem is with park equipment and with streets. Your capital improvement money can only be stretched so far. This gives us the availability to earmark a quarter of a percent just for parks."

Mayor Thoma said 75% of the penny sales tax increase will go toward the roads. Thoma said Kinney Road will be the top priority. It's a heavily traveled road, and as you can see, portions of it are riddled with potholes. Thoma said this road needs to be completely restructured.

"It needs to be completely redone," Thoma said, "Then the loop around the school. Once construction is done at the school, we would give that time to settle and hopefully we would be able to do that."

Residents agree that the city infrastructure needs work but seem to be split when it comes to paying for it.

"I am for it," Elgin resident Barbara Harris said. "I think that there are a lot of road repairs that need to be done. Particularly, out in the country where the new developments have been put in and the roads haven't been repaired since the houses were built."

"I think that's a little steep," Wilda Forbus said. "I think it's fine where it's at. I think we got to look elsewhere when dealing with our economy. As far as trying to tax us even more than we've been taxed, I don't think that's right"

"The infrastructure needs it," Vicki Wood said. "The roads around here could use a little work. I am all for parks and recreation, because that helps with the children. Like I said, a penny is a little on the steep side."

"It'd be fine if it's used what it's supposed to be for," Larry Cagla said. "We need it."

Mayor Thoma said if the increase is not approved, improvements to the city's infrastructure will move at a much slower pace. The election is next Tuesday.

Residents will also cast their vote for mayor. Mayor Larry Thoma is running against Iana Barker.

 

 

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