Voter approval would maintain 8.5% tax rate
By Ryan Horton
Harrah will ask city residents to maintain the existing sales tax rate with a proposition on the Aug. 25 ballot.
The question will ask voters to extend a one percent excise tax, dedicated for public works and capital improvements.
The current one percent tax is due to expire June 30, 2021, but if voters favor the extension the city will continue collecting that sales tax until Sept. 30, 2028.
Harrah’s sales tax rate is currently at 8.5 percent.
Meaning, a rejection of the proposition would drop the city’s sales tax rate to 7.5 percent going into the next fiscal year, while an approval of the ordinance would keep Harrah’s sales tax rate at at least 8.5 percent for most of the next decade.
City officials say that while most communities throughout Oklahoma and the nation have been working to increase sales tax rates, Harrah is looking only to maintain the standing rate.
Sales tax revenue is used by municipalities to cover most costs of operations and infrastructure improvements and maintenance.
Officials say Harrah has taken a different approach than most municipalities resulting in a lower tax rate.
Specifically, the city has obtained grants for equipment that has allowed for many jobs to be done in-house.
City officials say much maintenance and improvements, often bid out to contractors in other cities, can be completed by city staff for less.
This means jobs like road paving as well as water and sewer line installation can be done for less tax payer dollars than in many other communities, says city staff.
“These are services that are typically completed by a contractor. The reduced cost of the city providing these services in-house is, in some cases, millions of dollars less than having a contractor complete the work. Therefore, the City of Harrah has no intention of increasing sales tax,” noted city staff.