The Grove City Council voted three-to-one in favor of a resolution to urge voters to approve the county’s proposed .01 percent sales tax, which will be on the ballot Tuesday, January 13th.
Aimed at alleviating a jail overcrowding issue, which has caused the State Department of Health to file suit against Delaware County, the proposed tax would fund the use of 20 beds at the Ottawa County Jail for Delaware County prisoners if it passes.
Ward III Council Member Larry Parham said he has reservations about the tax, but feels that something must be done right away.
“I’m a retailer. I don’t like new sales taxes,” Parham said. “There ought to be a better way out, but we are part of the county and we need to step in and help them out of a bind.”
He said the tax would only be in place for five years, and that he would “fight tooth and nail” against any further tax increases.
Ward II Council Member Terry Ryan, who cast the one dissenting vote against the tax, said that he absolutely would not support it.
“The last quick-draw tax increase failed miserably,” Ryan said. “This is a short-sighted solution and no studies have been done to find other ways.
“Citizens will be paying tax money to Ottawa County,” Ryan added. “I think we need to keep that money in our county.”
The other three council members said they basically agreed with Ryan, but that something must be done.
The county would reportedly have to pay up to $10,000 a day to the state if the jail overcrowding issue continues unchecked.
In other business, the council voted to establish a committee to make recommendations about what should be done with revenue collected from a proposed hotel/motel tax for the city, which will also be on the ballot January 13th.
The .05 percent tax would apply to the cost of hotel and motel rooms within the city’s corporal limits, as well as city RV sites.
City Manager Bruce Johnson said the committee would consist of two city council members; one to two citizens with expertise in hotel ownership or management; one to three members with expertise on tourism development, and one to two representatives at large.
He said the committee would make recommendations to the council regarding use of the funds, and which organizations would be best suited to utilize them.
The council also voted to submit a grant application to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department for assistance with the expansion of the water spray park at the Grove Sports Complex; tabled a propose ordinance relating to finance and taxation for two weeks so that the city attorney can examine it and recommend any necessary legal changes, and approved a resolution to set an election date for new city council members.