By Debbie Robinson
MIAMI, Okla. — A residents’ street advisory committee Monday night recommended to the City Council that it seek a 1-cent sales tax for 15 years to rebuild and resurface city streets.
Mayor Brent Brassfield said acceptance of the recommendation does not lock the council into placing the measure before voters. He said a public hearing probably would be held to seek voters’ views on the proposed measure.
John Froman, chairman of the Peoria Tribe and a committee member, said the committee eliminated many funding mechanisms, such as a property-tax increase or a hotel tax, which is allocated to the Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A 1-cent sales tax would boost the total in the city to 9.85 percent. The city’s share of that would be 4 cents.
The city has 112 miles of streets.
“We do have some streets that have some life left, but the majority have zero life,” Froman said.
A 1-cent sales tax over 15 years would generate about $27 million, and about $50 million would be required to improve all deteriorating streets, said city engineer Jack Dalrymple.
“A strong concern with this committee was, once we make the recommendation, the City Council will have to look at maintenance,” Froman said.
Annual maintenance was estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million, Dalrymple said. “We spend a quarter of a million dollars now just to fill potholes,” he said.
Another committee member, Shannon Duhon, said retailers expressed concern about a sales-tax increase, but most recognized the importance of infrastructure in the city.
“With the sales tax, everybody pays the tax,” he said. “Anyone coming in from Missouri, Kansas or Arkansas would be helping pay for it.”
Froman said an online poll was conducted to gauge voter opinion. “The vast majority strongly agreed that the roads handicapped development,” he said.
City Manager Huey P. Long said the estimated figures for money to be generated from the proposed sales tax were based on a 2 percent increase in sales-tax revenues, although the city averages about 4 percent annual growth.
If the measure is placed before voters and approved in April, the tax would begin generating funds in September.
“The timing is not great,” Brassfield said. “But if we continue to put off addressing our streets, it’s going to come a point of no return, and we’re almost there.”
The Miami City Council on Monday approved an emergency measure prohibiting the slaughter and butchering of live animals within the city. Commercial businesses, such as butcher shops, are exempt. The ordinance does not apply to field-dressed deer.
By Debbie Robinson