Pottawatomie County commissioners have called a special sales tax election on Nov. 10.


 

Pottawatomie County commissioners have called a special sales tax election on Nov. 10.

Commissioners passed a resolution asking voters to approve a .495 percent sales tax. This increase should add roughly $3,874,500 per year in sales tax revenue.

The majority of the tax, .49 percent, would be used for building, transportation, safety and technology needs for Pottawatomie County schools. The revenues will not be used to pay salaries.

If approved, the additional revenue stream would benefit each of the 14 Pottawatomie County public school districts: Asher, Bethel, Dale, Earlsboro, Grove, Macomb, Maud, McLoud, North Rock Creek, Pleasant Grove, Shawnee, South Rock Creek, Tecumseh and Wanette.

The tax would last for 10 years, beginning July 1, 2016 and ending June 30, 2026.

If the measure passes, revenue will be divided amongst the schools based on the average daily attendance of students within the districts. The districts would write purchase orders to be approved through the county commissioners.

Enrollment numbers in each district for the 2014-15 school year were as follows: Asher, 274; Bethel, 1,341; Dale, 745; Earlsboro, 239; Grove, 461; Macomb, 291; Maud, 325; McLoud, 1,858; North Rock Creek, 582; Pleasant Grove, 282; Shawnee, 4,047; South Rock Creek, 414; Tecumseh, 2,264; and Wanette,189.

Tecumseh Superintendent Tom Wilsie said the school districts would benefit from this tax. Specifically, Wilsie provided several needs for Tecumseh schools, including new buses and safe rooms.

“Technology is a big thing, certainly with how fast it’s changing, trying to keep the newest technology in our student’s hands,” he said.

Charlie Dickinson, Dale superintendent, said this tax makes sense.

“Anything outside the box that gives us another revenue stream is just a great idea,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said he tries to purchase a new school bus every other year and replace computers every three years, but there isn’t always enough money in the school’s general fund.

“This would give me a chance to buy buses anytime I need to,” he said. “Anybody in their right mind has got to think that’s a good idea.”

Dickinson said the real question is how will this tax help Pottawatomie County students.

“We can put a roof over their head, we can build a building with it, we can make sure our transportation is up to date,” he said. “I hope it tugs on people’s heartstrings a little bit. Kids are our future, we need to make sure their education is a top priority.”

The other portion of the tax, .005 cents, would be utilized for the construction, acquisition, maintenance and operation of the One Safe Place Family Justice Center, a project initiated by District Attorney Richard Smothermon.

Watch for more updates on that effort in upcoming editions.