Chickasha Sales Tax passes by large majority

by WVCN Staff
 Thousands of Oklahoma voters in 14 counties cast ballots in a number of elections to determine the future of school bonds, municipal propositions and more on Tuesday, August 8.
 These August elections — with relatively low voter turnout — determine the fate of hundreds of millions of dollars in local projects across the state.
 Chickasha voters, those who voted, overwhelmingly approved a sales tax to fund the construction of a new water treatment plant for the city. The proposal for a 1.25 cent sales tax to go into effect January 1, 2024, was approved with 94 percent of the voters in favor, 1,206 to 81. With a three quarter cent tax expiring at the end of the year the increase will raise tax rates on consumer goods from 9% to 9.5%.
 Total funds generated by the tax are estimated to be $4.67 million annually. They will first be used to repay a $69 million 30-year loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) at a repayment rate of approximately $3 million each year.
 The remaining $1.6 million in annual revenue will be used for additional capital projects, such as equipment for the fire and police departments, pavement rehabilitation, road repairs, and other infrastructure projects.
 The Chickasha Municipal Authority provides about 16,000 people in central Oklahoma with drinking water. They overwhelmingly voted to fund a new water treatment plant — about 94% of voters were for the proposition. If the sales tax measured had failed, the city said it would hike water rates by 82%
 The current plant, which was completed in the 1970s, is operating under consent orders from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality — special arrangements that allow the system to keep its permits while it works to fix violations.
 The city says its water treatment plant is “operating past its useful life and is at risk of catastrophic failure.” It lies in a FEMA-designated special flood hazard area between the Washita River and Line Creek.
 But a new plant will cost $74 million, by the city’s estimates. The city will cover part of that with the 1.25 cent sales tax voters approved on Tuesday. The current 0.75 cent sales tax is expiring, so Chickasha shoppers will experience an increase of a half a cent for every dollar spent.
  The new water treatment plant will take approximately 3 years to complete. This timeline includes engineering, land acquisition, and construction. An engineering firm has already been selected to design the plant, and the city anticipates beginning operations at the new water treatment facility in late 2026.