Midwest City joined a growing number of communities that are against two state ballot proposals.
On Tuesday night, the city council approved resolutions opposing State Question 777 and State Question 779.
State Question 777, also known as the “Right to Farm” bill, would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation impeding farming and ranching. Mayor Matt Dukes says the proposal would threaten the city’s water rights and impede on the ability to regulate zoning.
“It takes all the rights from the municipalities and governments, so we can’t go back and regulate water rights without a prevailing interest,” Dukes said. “We want farmers to be able to farm, but this has to do with water rights.”
State Question 779 also known as the “Boren Penny Sales Tax Increase,” would create a one percent sales tax to fund teacher pay raises and other education causes. The ballot proposal has been spearheaded by University of Oklahoma president David Boren.
Dukes agrees with the need for more education funding, but believes the ballot proposal is the wrong solution. The proposal would push Midwest City’s sales tax rate near the 10 percent mark and would hamper municipalities’ ability to fund city services. Oklahoma is the only state where cities and towns are limited to sales tax to fund general operations.
“This is bad for municipalities, especially at a time when we’re all scraping by,” Dukes said.
If SQ 779 is approved, Midwest City’s sales tax rate would increase to 9.35 percent.
The city council unanimously approved both resolutions on Tuesday night. Councilman Rick Dawkins, a former teacher and principal, abstained from the vote on the SQ 779 resolution.
Two citizens spoke in favor of the council’s resolutions during the meeting.
The Oklahoma Municipal League and the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments oppose both ballot proposals.
Anadarko, Ponca City, Edmond, Lindsay and Kingfisher have passed resolutions against SQ 779. Edmond and Choctaw passed resolutions in opposition to SQ 777.
The state questions will appear on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election.