Guthrie leaders discuss defeat of penny sales tax

The city sales tax measure failed in Guthrie, and the Chamber of Commerce president hopes the city council will try again next year.
By Steve Gust, For The Oklahoman Modified: September 2, 2014 at 2:37 pm •  Published: September 3, 2014

— One Guthrie official says confusion might have contributed to the defeat of a 1-cent sales tax increase in the Aug. 26 election.

Mary Coffin, president of the Guthrie Chamber of Commerce, said it wasn’t a good idea to have two sales tax questions on one ballot.

“There was lots of confusion,” she said. “I know I had to explain it to members of my family. People didn’t understand the difference.”

The other vote was a Logan County measure calling for a 3/4-cent tax to replace the county’s current 1-cent tax. That tax proposal passed.

The city of Guthrie’s proposed penny sales tax increase would have generated an estimated $1.45 million annually. Half of that would have been spent on capital improvement projects such as roads, water infrastructure, sidewalk beautification and library renovations. The other half would have gone for employee compensation and new equipment. The measure failed 472-628.

“I also think we have a lot of voter apathy here,” Coffin said.

The chamber endorsed passage of the measure.

The failure didn’t surprise Guthrie resident Carol Hirzel.

“I believe the 600 people who voted ‘no’ on the sales tax proposal did not have faith the additional funds would be spent wisely,” she said.

Why there were two

About the Logan County measure, which passed 1,979-1,426 and will fund road and bridge maintenance as well as operations at the county jail and county fire departments, Coffin thinks it could have waited.

“The current 1-cent tax doesn’t expire until next year, and that’s when they (commissioners) should have had the vote,” Coffin said.

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There was lots of confusion. I know I had to explain it to members of my family. People didn’t understand the difference.”

Mary Coffin,
President, Guthrie Chamber of Commerce

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