Members of the Grove City Council gave the green light on Tuesday, Aug. 17, to get documents ready to file for a special election in November.

The election will ask voters to approve a 0.3 percent sales tax to finance the construction of a new $14 million civic center in Grove.

On Tuesday, council members requested city staff prepare a resolution calling for the election. If approved during a special session later this month, the resolution and necessary paperwork will then be sent to Dixie Smith, election secretary at the Delaware County Election Board.

The deadline to call a special election in November is Thursday, Sept. 14.

A look at the sales tax

Currently, Grove residents pay a city sales tax rate of 3.4 percent. The 0.3 percent increase would raise the city's total sales tax to 9.6 percent - which includes 4.5 state sales tax rate and 1.4 county rate.

Currently Grove's total sales tax is lower than area towns such as Miami, Vinita, Pryor and West Siloam Springs.

During the council meeting, Rick Smith with Municipal Finance Services, Inc., outlined the process needed for city officials to secure a low interest rural development loan, and how the repayment process would work.

“All is based on the 0.3 percent sales tax, if approved by the voters,” he said.

The additional sales tax, would be used to repay the debt service and for maintenance on the 60,000-square-foot building set to be built on Highway 59 near Wolf Creek Park.

“If we are going to have a showplace like this, we need to be able to take care of it,” City Manager Bill Keefer said.

Andy Stewart, spokesman for the Grow With Grove initiative and Grove Rotary president, told the council members of the Grow with Grove task force, will help fundraise and market the project. 

“As soon as you guys make a decision we’re ready to roll,” Steward said, adding the group hopes to raise $3 to $5 million in private donations to help finance the new civic center.

Christy Wright, chairman of Grow with Grove, reminded the group the building will be designed to accommodate a number of youth activities including basketball, wrestling, cheerleading and dance tournaments - which will bring in scores of people.

If the sales tax is approved, it will not go into effect until April 2018 - and the city will not begin receiving revenue from the 0.3 addition until June 2018.

City officials estimate the 0.3 increase will bring in approximately $580,000 a year in sales tax revenue.

The current aged Civic Center, located at 1702 South Main, has a buyer whose stipulation is to use the building for sales tax generating retail space.

The agreements, to date with the potential buyer - who has not been identified by city personnel - call for city officials to retain the use of the current civic center until a new, replacement facility is complete.

Other business

In other business, Keefer reported he has a confirmation from Oklahoma Department of Transportation approving O’Daniel Parkway as a truck route for southbound trucks.

Currently, Keefer said, the trucks making a southbound turn at the Third and Main traffic light frequently cause traffic at the light to back up due to the trucks' wide turn radius.

“This would eliminate that and they can make the turn southbound more easily at O’Daniel and Main,” he said.

While the truck route will not be mandatory, Keefer said he already talked to officials at Simmons Poultry Processing who will encourage their truck drivers to use the truck route.

Signage, Keefer said, will encourage truckers to use the alternate route which will also help reduce truck traffic along Third Street.

In other business, the council reappointed Amelia Chamberlain and Brad Wisdom to three year terms on the Convention and Tourism Bureau. No other qualified applicants applied for the two seats, which represent tourism and hotel interests, respectively.

No applicants were received for the open trustee position on the Grove Municipal Airport Managing Authority. City officials plan to resubmit advertising for the position.

Council members approved the purchase of a used portable building to house personnel staffing the city’s recycling center on O'Daniel Parkway.

The personnel, provided by the Friendship Home and paid by Bernice Sanitation, will be on location six hours a day during the regular work week.