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Local News

April 2, 2014

Tax renewal easily passes

DUNCAN — Duncan voters extended the half-cent sales tax for another five years on Tuesday with an impressive 70.9 percent of the vote.

The business community waged an aggressive campaign to continue the tax, which for the first time this year will be split between economic development and fixing the city’s streets and water system.

“We’re very pleased,” said Ben Herrington, a Duncan banker and former board chairman of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation, the nonprofit organization that is funded by the half-penny tax.

The pro-tax forces blanketed the city in red, white and blue “Yes” signs to promote the message that jobs, streets and water issues would be addressed with extension of the tax. They also covered the city with automated “robo calls” in the waning days of the campaign to elicit support.

Some opposition surfaced against the tax, chiefly from Duncan insurance agency owner Peggy Davenport, who took the defeat in stride.

“I don’t think anybody should be disappointed in the outcome of an election. As long as people got out and voted, that’s always the right thing,” she said.

“The city still gets a million dollars, so that’s something for them,” she noted.

Davenport said she and others spent $750 to advertise against the tax extension.

The volunteer organization that support the tax extension, which included a wide range of business interests that pay dues to belong to DAEDF,  spent thousands to promote the tax extension.

Herrington said he was unsure how much was spent on the campaign, but said it exceeded the last tax vote.

By law, the half-cent sales tax must be placed on the ballot by the City Council every five years for it to continue. The tax was first approved in 1994 and has raised about $27 million.

Opponents of the extension asserted DAEDF has not accomplished enough for the tax to continue, but supporters said the Duncan area has enjoyed a 300 percent return on the $15 million that’s been invested in economic development.

“I would ask that those who were in opposition to join with us,” Herrington said. “Stay engaged. We still have a lot of work to do.”

Lyle Roggow, president of DAEDF, said early polling data showed the tax extension had strong support among 50 percent of the voters while 10 percent were strongly opposed to an extension and the remainder were either uncommitted or nonresponsive.

Shortly after the polls closed at 7 p.m., spotters checked several precincts around the city for the voting outcomes taped to the doors after voting was over.

“We had a sense about it early in the evening,” he said of the lopsided victory.

With the election over, Roggow said DAEDF can move forward with its jobs program and the city can move forward with about $1 million extra to fix its water system and streets.

“The key to the future of Duncan and to the use of these funds is to form a partnership with the people so they feel they are listened to and included in the decision-making process,” he said.

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