Sometimes you hate to disagree because those with whom you are taking issue are your friends. In cases like that, perhaps, one agrees to disagree. Such is the case with a plan put forth by Pontotoc County leaders to raise county sales taxes 11/16s of a penny. Good, honorable people came up with the idea, but we take serious issue with it for many reasons.

Hardly anyone disputes the idea that the county needs a new jail, and we don’t either. In fact, we have little choice in the matter. The State Health Department filed an administrative action against Pontotoc County that could cost us money if we don’t take measures to comply.

Hardly anyone quibbles with the fact Pontotoc County Courthouse is in dire need of renovation. It most certainly does need work and it takes money to do that.

But we think combining the two, one a state mandated necessity (a new jail), with one that is not (renovation of the courthouse), is too much. They are separate issues and should be treated as such.

Raising Ada’s sales tax from its current 8.5 cents on the dollar to an effective 9.25 cents on the dollar lifts us from being in the lower third of Oklahoma taxable communities to being in the upper twenty percent. While many smaller communities such as Holdenville, Sulphur and Asher have higher sales tax rates; we lose few shoppers to these areas. Raising Ada’s tax rate to 9.25 percent will make Shawnee’s 8.5 percent and Norman’s even lower 8 percent that much more attractive, draining critical retail sales from our market.

The stated amount to be raised for the jail and courthouse is $14.6 million. At current sales tax revenues 11/16s of a cent would generate almost $43 million in 20 years, the designated life of the tax. At normal interest rates the amount needed to pay off the principal and interest on $14.6 million would be approximately $29.2 million. Admittedly, this does not include architects’ fees and the bonding agent’s commission, but it is difficult to believe those entities would be paid almost $14 million for their services.

As for the threat of fines, this too appears to be overstated. Bryan County was recently fined $700,000 by the same state jail officials who are looming over us and ended up paying $15,000, a fraction of the total amount.

Yes, we agree a new jail is needed and that the county courthouse needs repair. But we think the method and scope of funding is in serious need of further review.

At least at this time, we vote no.

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