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January 12, 2014

Final touches on Duncan sales tax extension in place

Edmond — Duncan officials have their sights set on an April 1 election to determine if the half-cent sales tax that was approved 10 years ago will be continued for another five years.

Council members and business leaders are hopeful the tax will be extended.

No organized opposition has surfaced to oppose the tax.

The council will meet at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday to consider the matter.

The sales tax, initially approved in 1994, goes to a vote every five years. This time around, the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation will split the sales tax with the city, if voters approve.

Officials have tinkered with the proposed resolution’s language to make it easier for voters to understand, said Lyle Roggow, president of the development foundation.

“The language has been changed so it is still about economic development. Part of economic development includes infrastructure, including streets and water projects,” Rogow said.

The language clarification went as far as defining “infrastructure” in order to focus on two  primary concerns: street improvements and a response to declining water supply.

“Everything’s been positive,” Roggow said. “We’re moving forward.”

When the half-cent sales tax was passed 20 years ago, it netted about $700,000 a year. The sales tax now nets between $1.8 million to $2 million. Because of the increase, Roggow said it makes sense to split the money with the city.

 The city’s deteriorating streets have been a hot topic, but voters rejected a bond issue last year that would have addressed the problem.

  The city’s water supply became a major issue due to drought conditons beginning in 2011.

As lake levels declined, the city’s water supply declined.

 Outdoor watering restrictions have been imposed, but city officials say they need financial help to rectify the water and street issues.

  Solving both problems will help economic development, said Çity Manager Jim Frieda.

“It becomes more important as water becomes more critical. The water issue is almost too obvious to discuss. Everyone knows how important it is. It will be an extremely important question as water becomes more critical,” Frieda said.

 Said Roggow:

“It keeps us, as a community, competitive. All things can work well together. It will give us the quality of life necessary for growth. We’re still very focused on economic growth. We’re also trying to address other needs like streets and infrastructure.”

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Taylor Ellsworth, left and Leah Mulkey hang up a flag promoting the National Day of the Cowboy, which is set for Saturday at the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center.

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