Stephens County voters approved a countywide 0.15 percent increase in the sales tax, which could generate tens of thousands a year for 12 fire departments and five centers that provide meals for senior citizens.
10,880 people voted yes for the measure, while 5,402 voted against it, according to unofficial returns.
The increase comes at a time when state or federal grant money for the departments and centers has been declining.
Gary Curtis, spokesman for a county task force representing the fire departments, said he was pleased with Tuesday’s outcome.
“All I can say is the community certainly saw the need and we appreciate that so much,” he said.
Curtis has said the tax increase could bring in $35,000 yearly per department although that is a rough “guesstimate.” The senior nutrition centers would get one-13th of the money.
The will go into effect in April and expire after seven years.
“People are going to see better equipment out there as time goes by,” Curtis said. “They will see firefighters on the scene with better equipment.”
The fire departments that will get the money from the increase are Bray, Central High, Comanche, Corum, Doyle, Duncan, Empire, Loco, Marlow, Meridian, Oakridge and Velma. he Duncan Fire Department pays its firefighters and Marlow and Velma are a combination of paid and volunteer firefighters, while the other nine are volunteer only.
The five senior centers that would benefit are in Comanche, north Duncan, south Duncan, Marlow and Velma.
Under the measure, people will pay 15 cents more for every $100 spent, $1.50 for $1,000 spent and $15 more for every $10,000 spent.
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