Voter approval higher than hotel tax vote, Rooney says
Just over 1,400 voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of a 1-cent sales tax extension to fund $25 million in city projects.
The tax vote passed with 940 votes in favor and 489 against. This reflected a voter turnout of 10 percent of the city’s total 14,089 registered voters, the Canadian County Election Board reports.
“We are happy and can now start planning for the projects we had identified and move forward,” City Manager Tim Rooney. “The real work now begins.”
The last time the city asked for a tax vote, the city leader noted, was two years ago for a new hotel tax. In that election, the tax passed by 55 percent and 45 percent voted against it.
“The hotel tax would never be paid for by a resident of Mustang, so ultimately it would not affect them,” Rooney said. “This is a tax that affects people in Mustang and 65.8 percent voted yes – that’s a higher percentage than the hotel tax.”
After Tuesday’s election, the 1-cent tax will stay on another 13 years. Originally, Mustang voters approved the tax staying on until 2030, or until it was paid off, for various projects but due to the city’s growth, it was able to be paid off sooner.
City archives show the original vote setting up the 1-cent sales tax in 1996 passed by 52 percent with 48 percent against. Then on the second vote in 1999, which extended the tax to 2030, 57 percent of voters said yes while 43 percent voted no.
A further breakdown of Tuesday’s vote shows that those choosing to vote by absentee ballot were neck-in-neck on the vote with 63 votes for and 51 against. In early voting, three yes votes were counted and two no votes.
On election day, a total of 1,310 votes were cast with 874 for the tax and 436 against. The tax vote turnout overall was higher than the mayoral election, which is the last time the city had just one item on the ballot, Rooney explained.
“This was a pretty high turnout for the only thing on the ballot,” he said.
Tax projects broken down
Now that it is approved, the 1-cent sales tax will provide $25 million in funding for public safety (10 percent) and capital improvements (90 percent). The projects could include:
– Public safety: $4 million for a new emergency operations center, fire substation, software upgrade and new vehicles and equipment.
– Streets: $10 million for Sara Road and SW 89th Street widening, and neighborhood street overlay.
– Infrastructure: $6 million for waste water plant treatment upgrades.
– Quality of Life: $5 million for all-inclusive playground and splash pad, Town Center expansion and senior center parking, animal shelter renovation, soccer field lighting and a new Mustang Market Place.
Rooney has noted in interviews that the projects are subject to change based on the city’s priorities. He said if a tornado were to ever devastate Mustang, the city would be flexible with the sales tax funds in order to address those pressing needs.
In other county election news, Lonnie Paxton defeated Matt Stacy in the Republican run-off for District 23 State Senator. Paxton garnered 2,584 votes compared to Stacy’s 1,761.
Then in the District 60 State Representative race, Rhonda Baker beat out Chad Slane with 909 votes to his 725.