By Jeff Shultz
Voters going to the polls on April 6 will have two countywide sales tax propositions to consider.
The Garvin County Commissioners approved ballot language for the upcoming sales tax election Tuesday afternoon in a special meeting.
The half-cent sales tax currently in place will sunset June 30. The commissioners would like to see the tax renewed for another seven years and the funds designated primarily for county EMS services.
Commissioners approved two ballot resolutions on Tuesday.
The first resolution calls for 20% of the money from the sales tax to go to roads and bridges, general county operations, county senior citizens organizations and the Garvin County OSU Extension Center.
The second proposition designates the remaining 80% of the half-cent sales tax revenue for public safety initiatives such as the Garvin County 911 Service, EMS services, the county sheriff’s office and the county jail.
While the commissioners split the ballot into two propositions, it was unclear just how much money would be doled out to the various entities mentioned in each resolution, especially to the large group of EMS personnel at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Just how much of that 80% will be divided up?” asked Johnny Mann, a former county commissioner.
Assistant DA Carol Price-Dillingham told the group the commissioners didn’t want to specifically spell out how the sales tax would be divided up so they could move the funds to other departments who might need the money.
“It will never pass that way,” Mann said.
Pauls Valley Police Chief Mitch McGill spoke on behalf of the Pauls Valley Ambulance District One.
“I’m not comfortable with the fact the commissioners – no matter who they are – can change how much an ambulance service gets with the stroke of a pen,” McGill said.
Price-Dillingham countered McGill’s statement, “I know these three men up here, and I know they would never take someone’s funding away with the ‘stroke of the pen.’”
She said the commissioners will hold a series of town hall-style meetings around the county prior to the election.
Mann asked the commissioners why the tax is set to be renewed for seven years instead of making the tax a permanent one.
“The people I’ve talked to don’t want it to be a permanent tax,” said Commissioner Gary Ayres.
“I’m hearing just the opposite,” said Commissioner Mike Gollihare.
County Clerk Lori Fulks told the News Star she expects the county won’t need to utilize much of the sales tax funding, “Unless something comes up unexpectedly.”