CHICKASHA, Okla. – August 9, 2023 – On Tuesday, August 8, Chickasha voters passed a proposition for a permanent 1.25% capital sales tax. While results are considered unofficial until Friday, August 11, the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website shows 1,206 citizens voted for the proposition with 81 voting against, a margin of nearly 94%.
The funds generated from this sales tax, estimated to be approximately $4.67 million annually, will first be used to repay a $69 million 30-year loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB). The loan will be used to fund a new water treatment plant, and the loan repayment is approximately $3 million each year. If the cost of the plant is less than the OWRB loan, the City can use loan funding on other water-related projects, including new water lines, upgrading the holding pond, and other water system improvements.
The remaining $1.6 million in annual revenue will be used for additional capital projects, such as equipment for the fire and police departments, pavement rehabilitation, road repairs, and more. Projects will be completed as funds are available, and administration is actively planning and prioritizing the projects.
The new water treatment plant is expected to take approximately 3 years to complete. This timeline includes engineering, land acquisition, and construction. An engineering firm has already been selected to design the plant, and the City anticipates beginning operations at the new water treatment facility in 2026.
“While we would have liked to see a larger voter turnout, this was higher than several prior municipal elections in Chickasha,” said City Manager Keith Johnson “With that said, we are pleased there was a clear decision made by the voters to go in the direction of spreading the cost of these projects to all those who visit and spend money in Chickasha. We look forward to getting started on these projects and seeing them come to fruition.”
City Council has already passed a resolution nullifying an 82% water rate increase that was set to take place if the sales tax did not pass, and no water rate increases are planned at this time. Moving forward, it is the intent of current City leadership to only raise water rates as needed to cover actual water costs.
The 1.25% sales tax will go into effect on January 1, 2024. The current .75% CIP sales tax is expiring on December 31, 2023, so Chickasha shoppers will see a .5% net increase in sales tax on January 1.