DELAWARE COUNTY – Voters soundly defeated two tax proposals on Tuesday's special election ballot, according to unofficial election results reported by the Delaware County Election Board.
Only 7.41 percent of registered voters, 1,804 of 24,346, turned out to cast ballots, the Election Board reported.
The City of Grove's proposed five percent hotel/motel tax was quashed with 287 votes against and 137 in favor. Those numbers translate to 69 percent voters against and 32.31 percent in favor.
Revenue from the tax would have been used to promote tourism in the area.
Grove City Council Member Larry Parham said that he didn’t know of any other town that had rejected a hotel/motel tax; however, he feels the setback will give the council an opportunity to rethink and retool the proposal, or, possibly, to drop it altogether.
“It’s good that citizens decided they wanted more information about how the money is to be spent before they would vote for the tax,” Parham said, adding that it speaks well of Grove residents that they are concerned about money even when it isn’t coming out of their own pockets.
“The idea was to put the funds back into development so we could get more hotels and resorts filled,” Parham said.
“Now is the time to sit back and decide what the citizens want so that we can adjust what we do to fit their ideas,” he concluded.
In the countywide election, 44.09 percent voted in favor of the sales tax proposal, with 55.91 percent voting against.
The county's proposal for a .01 percent sales tax, which would have funded the use of 20 beds at the Ottawa County jail facility for Delaware County prisoners failed with 771 "no" votes and 608 votes in favor.
Eleven of the twenty-two precincts in the county voted for the increase, but the numbers were too low to carry the proposition.
At this time county officials are uncertain of what the repercussions of the vote will be. The state has threatened to fine Delaware County as much as $10,000 per day if the jail overcrowding issue is not alleviated.
“The lawsuit against Delaware County is still pending. All I can do now is go to Oklahoma City and argue to keep the fines down. I’ve been putting them off for over two years. Now we have no option,” said District Attorney Eddie Wyant.
District #2 County Commissioner Bill Cornell, who sits on the board of the Delaware County Public Facilities Authority, said, “We can’t give the public an answer the day after the election. The board will need to take it back to the table and discuss the issue and see where we’re at.”
Broken down, the numbers by precinct on the City of Grove proposal were:
Pct. 210005 – 34 yes, 68 no
Pct. 210007 – 48 yes, 118 no
Pct. 210009 – 43 yes, 67 no
Pct. 210011 – 8 yes, 16 no
Absentee – 4 yes, 18 no
Broken down, the numbers by precinct on the countywide proposition were:
Pct. 210001- 13 yes, 36 no
Pct. 210002- 22 yes, 27 no
Pct. 210003- 12 yes, 19 no
Pct. 210004- 16 yes, 38 no
Pct. 210005- 37 yes, 124 no
Pct. 210006- 15 yes, 22 no
Pct. 210007- 55 yes, 125 no
Pct. 210008- 12 yes, 24 no
Pct. 210009- 53 yes, 128 no
Pct. 210011- 15 yes, 25 no
Pct. 210012 – 26 yes, 24 no
Pct. 210014 – 33 yes, 13 no
Pct. 210015 – 18 yes, 8 no
Pct. 210016 – 28 yes, 11 no
Pct. 210017 – 18 yes, 14 no
Pct. 210018 – 35 yes, 5 no
Pct. 210019 – 22 yes, 20 no
Pct. 210020 – 14 yes, 17 no
Pct. 210021 – 29 yes, 0 no
Pct. 210022 – 55 yes, 22 no
Pct. 210023 - 12 yes, 6 no
Absentee Pct. - 68 yes, 63 no
The election results from Tuesday will not be official until Friday, January 16th.