BY ADAM TROXTELL,The Express-Star
CHICKASHA — The continuation of a quarter-cent sales tax is on the ballot across the county today, with an expansion of the Grady County Fairgrounds promised should it pass.
Early voting has seen about 0.2 percent of the 29,740 registered voters turn out for the special election, according to Election Board figures. Both proponents and opponents of the measure have spoken of their worry that voter turnout will be low.
"I would hope we get more votes that there have been in the past," Susan Turner, Election Board secretary, said. "I'd like to see at least half of the people vote, but 30 percent or 40 percent would be good. People come out to vote for the president, but they just don't seem to come out for these."
Jerry Arthur, vice president of the Fairgrounds Board, has encouraged those in support of continuing the tax that helps maintain the Fairgrounds to cast their ballot and not to simply expect the measure to pass. Bobby Williams, mayor of Tuttle where any opposition of the tax continuance is anticipated to center around, has expressed his worry over voter turnout along with County Commissioner Windle Hardy, who is against the sales tax.
Should the tax continue, the Fairgrounds Board has pledged to use it to fund a renovation of the outdoor arena that would seat over 2,000 spectators with the use of temporary bleachers and a permanent 1,400-seat covered stand. Rodeos, motocross, tractor pulls and other outdoor events would be hosted in the 150 foot by 330 foot outdoor venue. The money would also fund a brand new 102,000 square foot climate-controlled indoor arena designed to host cattle and horse shows, gun shows, and other multi-day events.
Board members and supporters of the move say this will lead to increased sales tax revenue from people coming in from out of town and using hotels, restaurants, and local stores. The main complaint from opponents is that the increase in revenue will stay in Chickasha and not stretch to other parts of the county.