Sales tax reduction, extension on the ballot

Lawton_If you thought the sales tax vote was over in Comanche County - you can think again.  It's back to the polls in February to vote on whether or not to reduce the one quarter sales tax to one eighth and extend it for seven years.

The revenue from that sales tax goes to operating the Comanche County Detention Center and County Commissioners say without the extension, the facility will not be able to operate effectively.

Commissioner Ron Kirby says to think of it as a tax investment rather than a tax hike.  "We would hope that the voters would see fit to reduce down the tax and make 1/8 of a cent sales tax for the next seven years," he says.  Jail Administrator Dale Cable says running a jail is expensive, but it's necessary.  "For our own safety, for our children's safety everyone involved, yes it has to be there, I'd hate to think what it would be like without a jail," he says.

This tax vote doesn't come as a surprise.  Commissioner Gayle Turner was on board right after the initial tax hike to build the jail.  "We knew ten years ago that we would be back asking the public for an operational budget," she says.

And, they stayed within budget building the jail and will have the debt paid back on time - by the end of 2008.  This new tax wouldn't start until January 2009 and without it courthouse services will be affected.  Commissioners say they would have to reduce everywhere which will put a strain on community safety.

If voters okay this sales tax, it will bring in about half of the funds needed to run the facility.  "The jail itself runs approximately $2.5 million dollars," says Kirby.  If for some reason taxpayers vote this down, the tax will have to be put on ad valorem which Kirby says isn't fair because then only homeowners would be paying the tax.

The vote for the sales tax reduction and extension will take place February 5th, 2008.