Temporary sales tax made permanent to fund capital improvement projects and parks
By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon
Midwest City voters agreed to continue a sales tax to fund capital infrastructure projects and parks.
The city’s sales tax proposition passed Sept. 12 with more than 60% of the vote. It received 768 yes votes and 510 no votes.
The proposition was approved in 16 of the 21 precincts. It was narrowly defeated in 398, 400 and 410. There were ties in precincts 398 and 390.
“I want to thank all of those who voted and once again entrusted the leadership to continue the momentum we began in 2018,” said Mayor Matt Dukes.
The .4015% temporary sales tax was created to fund renovation and upgrades of the city’s wastewater treatment facility. The proposal will change how the sales tax dollars are spent – by redirecting funds towards capital improvement projects and parks.
The current sales tax was approved by voters in November 2011 and was originally scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, 2025. It could also sunset early if the debt on the wastewater treatment plant is satisfied, which could happen as early as this fall, according to city officials.
The current .4015% sales tax generates about $4.5 million per year. The city currently receives about $750,000 to $1 million per year for capital infrastructure projects.
Eighty percent of the funds would be used for capital improvement projects such as replacing sewer line, repairing streets, and water lines. The other 20% would be dedicated to maintenance, operations and upgrades to the city’s parks and recreation facilities.
City manager Tim Lyon said the city lacked adequate funding for infrastructure and parks.
“There hasn’t been a lot of investment in the old infrastructure that is 30, 40 and some 70 years old,” Lyon said. “We were maintaining what we have but not investing in the infrastructure.”
Once the city pays off the wastewater treatment facility project, the sales taxes will begin collecting into a new fund in the budget.
The city has identified more than $100 million in projects that could be funded. The projects are a result of issues identified by staff and the public. The city will conduct a study of the sewer, water, drainage systems, as well as a master parks plan that will serve as a guideline.
Lyon said the city will need to have dedicated staff for drainage projects, which will be helped by the sales tax.
“I want as much of this capital going into cement, into blacktop, into pipes as we can,” Lyon said. “But a little bit of this money is going to have to go to staffing to support the project management and maintenance.”
The money will also be used as matching funds for state and federal grants.
Midwest City leaders gave presentations to neighborhood associations, civic groups, and residents in advance of the vote.