There might not be any presidential candidates or hotly contested congressional races on Oklahoma’s May 11 special election ballot, but city and county elections are still plenty important, as they decide many questions that could impact communities for years to come.
So here’s a brief rundown of questions and proposals residents in some of Oklahoma’s 77 counties will be faced with when they go to the polls Tuesday, May 11. For a full list of all elections being held, visit the Oklahoma State Election Board.
Voters within the boundaries of Rush Springs will decide if they want to renew an electricity franchise agreement with Public Service Company of Oklahoma. If approved, the franchise would allow PSO to use county roads and streets to provide electric service and to upgrade service infrastructure within the county.
County residents will decide the fate of a half-cent sales tax. If approved, proceeds would be used to renovate the Jackson County Courthouse in Altus. The building, built in the early 20th century, was added to the national list of historic places in 1984.
The 10-year half-cent sales tax on the ballot in Kingfisher would provide funds for a new fire station in the county along with street improvements and improvements to parks and recreation infrastructure. The tax would apply only to purchases made within the Kingfisher city limits and would raise sales tax in the area from 3 cents to 3.5 cents.
Voters will consider a resolution to levy a 5 percent lodge tax that would be assessed on those who rent rooms at campsites, AirBnB properties, hotels and motels within the county. The tax would not apply to cities and towns within the county that have previously enacted a lodging tax.
If approved by county residents, a 1 percent sales tax increase would go into effect later this year. The funds from the penny increase would be used in a variety of offices and areas, including the sheriff, the treasurer, the OSU extension, the county clerk, assessor and commissioners, the fair board, economic development, Sulphur Chamber of Commerce, Davis Chamber of Commerce, rural fire departments, emergency management, 4-H, courthouse restoration, EMS services and 911 improvements.
Residents will decide on a bond issue that would make up to $20 million available for industrial development efforts within the county. Proceeds would be used as capital that could be loaned by the county to companies that plan to relocate there or to expand their local operations, according to a report in the Muskogee Phoenix. Under the plan, all loans would require the approval of the county commissioners.
Residents in the cities of Choctaw and Harrah will consider a franchise agreement with Oklahoma Natural Gas. The agreement will allow the utility to use the city’s streets and roads to help provide services to the community.
“This franchise will outline how Oklahoma Natural Gas and the Cities of Choctaw and Harrah work together,” said Martie Oyler, Oklahoma Natural Gas Community Relations Manager. “Residents will continue to benefit from safe, affordable and reliable natural gas service as they have for so many decades.”
The Harrah and Choctaw City Council unanimously approved both the franchise ordinance and the resolution calling for special election.
In Midwest City, voters will consider a smorgasbord of 15 propositions, ranging from revisions of the location and cost of a proposed fire and police training center to expanding the power of the city manager during emergencies. Measures to prevent nepotism and deadlines for declaring candidacies for city offices are also among the propositions.