Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

Grove City Council has been adamantly vocal about its “No” stance on the upcoming sales tax election, and Tuesday night’s meeting was no exception.

The subject of the election, which will once again require voters to make a choice between approving a sales tax increase to fund a new jail facility and nixing it, was placed on the agenda by Ward III Council Member Larry Parham.

“How many times does it take to say ‘no’?” Parham asked.

Three similar propositions have failed at the polls during the past two years.

If passed, the new sales tax would bring Grove’s sales tax from 8.8 cents to 9.3 cents, making it the second highest sales tax in the state of Oklahoma.

The current incarnation of the jail tax proposal requests a .5% sales tax for the construction of a 100-bed facility to be built on the south side of the existing 62-bed jail facility.

The debt for the facility would be set for retirement on January 1, 2019 or earlier. At that time the sales tax would drop to .25% permanently for maintenance and operation of the 162-bed facility.

Council members feel the tax would be detrimental to Grove retail establishments, and, further, that all the solutions to the overcrowding problem at the county’s current detention facility have not been properly examined.

Citizens present at the meeting concurred with council members.

“It (the jail tax) is ill-conceived,” said Jim McArter. “This little area here is going to pay. The whole county will not pay equally. Bernice people shop in Langley or Vinita and people down south shop in Siloam Springs, AR.”

Council members hope to mobilize Grove voters to turn out for the August 24 election.

“If we don’t vote ‘No’ it will be ‘Yes’ this time,” added Ward II Council Member Marty Follis.