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Penny for your thoughts: City leaders propose one-penny sales tax in Coweta
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Penny for your thoughts: City leaders propose one-penny sales tax in Coweta

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Coweta voters will have the opportunity to cast ballots for the One for Coweta campaign, Sept. 14, 2021. If passed, it would be a one cent, permanent increase in the cities sales tax to support capital projects.

A public forum was held at the Coweta fire station July 29, hosted by City Manager Roger Kolman. After the roughly, 45-minute discussion, attendees were able to tour the fire station since public safety improvements are at the forefront of the One for Coweta initiative.

The One for Coweta tax would be used for improvements in public safety facilities and equipment, parks, streets and drainage projects across the city, Kolman said.

The proposal also includes adding an additional fire station on the northern section of Coweta, as growth prompts improved services in that part of the city, Kolman said.

Currently, Coweta has a combined tax burden of 8.8%, when factoring in 4.5% as state tax, 1.3% as county tax and 3% as city tax. Adding another penny would increase Coweta’s combined burden to 9.8%, which as Kolman pointed out, is right around the same amount as other cities within the metropolitan area.

To put it in perspective, Wagoner’s current, combined tax burden is also 9.8%. Bixby’s combined burden, in Wagoner County jurisdiction, is 9.85%. Broken Arrow, in Tulsa County jurisdiction, is at 8.41%. All of these tax percentages came from a printout that city of Coweta employees gave to attendees at the public forum. It can also be found online.

Kolman said the city of Coweta needs a dedicated revenue stream to meet infrastructure needs in the city. To put it simply: things are aging out.

“Having this revenue stream will allow us to get ahead of these replacements needs and start to really prepare our city and our region for the growth that’s going to occur here over the next, 20 years,” Kolman said.

It is growing, indeed. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 26,184 was the trade area population, up by 14.5% since 2000. The 2020 U.S Census estimate is 29,984.

Public safety is a large focus of the One for Coweta initiative.

Kolman explained that Coweta’s police and fire stations, conjoined together on North Broadway Street, have deteriorated with time and weather. The police department’s side was built in 1940, and the northern part of the building, where the fire station is now, was added in 1985. He said the fire department has leaked since day one due to the way it was constructed, and mold has been a consistent problem on the inside.

Coweta Fire Chief Jerry Burtner said the current state of the fire station is not conducive to the growing department — especially for the men and women who have to live there during 24-hour shifts.

“When it was built (in 1985), it was made to house three personnel staying here at a 24-hour time period. Today, we currently have seven guys working a 24-hour time period. We’ve out grown our building,” Burtner said.

When it pertains to training facilities, Burtner said the department does not have any. In fact, most of their training is done sitting on the couch or kitchen table at the fire station, he said.

Coweta Police Chief Mike Bell’s issues aren’t much different than Burtner’s. Lack of room has become the biggest burden, he said.

“At this point, I’ve reached my max. I can’t get any more officers in the building. I can’t create more offices. We’re cramped,” said Bell.

The police side was originally the Coweta City Hall, and lacks a feasible design for expansion, Kolman said.

One for Coweta’s other key initiatives include creating additional lanes and adding shoulders to existing roads.

Another key initiative is updating the Coweta Sports Park. If the tax is passed, city leaders hope to improve the park’s overall usability by fixing drainage issues, adding lighting, paving gravel parking lots and making it more handicap accessible.

The last part of the initiative would be to conduct a master drainage study to identify areas and methods of improvement to storm water drainage and retention.

“That’s very important,” Kolman said. “Whenever it rains, we always seem to find pockets where water doesn’t have a place to go.”

The city of Coweta will host another public forum for residents to listen and ask questions about the proposal. It will be Aug. 19 at City Hall, 310 South Broadway St. The time hasn’t been announced. There will also be an online forum, Sep. 2.

One for Coweta road improvements:

1. 111th St S. from OK-51 to 278th E. Ave

-Additional lane, shoulders and drainage improvement

2. 273rd E. Ave. from 111th St. South, north to city limits

-Road widening, drainage improvements and potential additional lane

3. 273rd E. Ave. from 121st St. S. to 151st St. South

-Road widening, drainage improvements and resurface roadway

4. 121st St. S. (W) from 266th E. Ave. to OK-51

-Road widening, drainage improvements and resurface roadway

5. 121st St. S. (E) from OK-51 to 281st E. Ave

- Road widening, drainage improvements, replace bridge and resurface roadway

6. 141st St. South at OK-51

-Realign OK-51 intersection

7. 141st St. South from OK-51 to 305th E. Ave

-Road widening, drainage improvements, replace box culverts and resurface roadway

8. 305th E. Ave. from OK-51 to 136th St. South

-Road widening, drainage improvements and resurface roadway

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Wagoner County American-Tribune Editor

I am the editor of the Wagoner County American-Tribune. Phone: 918-485-5505

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