Lawton citizens to vote on extending the Ad Valorem Tax
LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Along with city council elections, there will also be a vote for Lawton citizens to extend 2017′s Ad Valorem tax for an estimated 11 years.
The Ad Valorem tax is taken from property tax the city uses for building, and in this case, for road restoration.
Roads have always been a problem in southwest Oklahoma, but how does extending an old tax solve today’s problems?
“Bridges are something that we don’t typically pay attention to. We just go across them and they’re part of the road, but bridges are something that it’s critical to take care of because of the weight limit,” said Lawton Mayor Stan Booker.
According to city officials, including bridge renovations in the budget is the biggest difference from the original tax extension.
Mayor Booker said these bridges need renovations, especially because they affect the routes of the heavier city vehicles like fire engines and garbage trucks.
There are also five roadway projects that still need to be completed from the original tax, resulting in the city proposing the estimated 11 year extension to secure $60-million dollars.
“Extending the tax gives us the opportunity to address more issues without raising the tax,” added Booker. “None of us want to raise taxes. That’s why we extend the tax instead of raise the tax. It’s worked very well with propel.”
However there are people who are against this extension.
“It needs to be specified what these projects are because I have a feeling we’re going to be paying for the same projects that have not been completed,” said Shane Grimes, a concerned citizen.
The reason why they’re not done? Inflation, according the City’s director of engineering, Joseph Painter.
“As everybody knows expenses have just gone crazy. And in the construction industry prices have almost doubled on everything,” said Painter. “So we were projecting and now it’s very clear we will spend the 55.3 million dollars and not get that initial list of projects completed.”
Grimes added while the tax addresses citizens’ concerns, this proposal needs a rewrite.
“This particular proposal is out of line. It needs to be redone and then it can be acceptable. You can vote yes or no, but this particular proposal is too vague,” said Grimes. “They just need to go back to the drawing board. Come back with a real proposal with real outcomes so they can be held accountable for those funds.”
Mayor Booker said it’s no secret the roads in Lawton are terrible, and there’s no plan B to fix these issues if this tax doesn’t pass.
“All cities have road work that they have to do and they have to fund. Ad Valorem is one way to fund that. This is the first time we’ve asked the citizens to fund critical bridge issues. We feel certain that the citizens will respond the way they always have when we’ve asked them to support critical projects like this,” said Booker.
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