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City looking to add swim complex and skateboard park with sales tax extension

Proposed plans for new Sallisaw swim complex and skateboard park.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022 - On February 8 the citizens of Sallisaw will be presented with a proposition asking to extend the half-cent sales tax that is currently in place for the sports complex. The extension of the sales tax would generate several positive outcomes that would benefit the quality of life for the city and its residents.

City of Sallisaw City Manager Keith Skelton said, "The debt of the sports complex is estimated to be paid in full by March/April 2022. This is over twelve months sooner than expected. If the half-cent sales tax is extended, the funds will be used to construct two very important community projects: a new swim complex and a new skateboard park."

Skelton pointed out several key facts regarding the sales tax extension that will be voted on during the upcoming election.

*This is not an additional sales tax. It is simply an extension of the existing half-cent sales tax currently in place for the sport’s complex debt.

*The sales tax rate within the city limits of Sallisaw will remain at 9.917%.

*The sales tax will be effective for eight years.

*The city plans to issue $6 million in bonds for the pool and skatepark with a payoff in eight years or sooner.

*It's estimated the half-cent will generate approximately $850,000 per year over eight years. Of this $850,000, approximately $780,000 per year will be needed to cover the debt service on the pool and skate park.

*Any excess sales tax collected will be used for soccer fields and tennis courts. It's estimated that around $560,000 will be generated over eight years to invest in those projects.

*Any excess construction funds from the $6 million would also go toward the soccer fields and skatepark.

Some residents may find themselves wondering why they need a sales tax for the two proposed community projects. The city recently answered this question by stating, "Oklahoma is the only state that does not provide any type of turnback funding to its cities and towns. This leaves cities and towns in Oklahoma heavily dependent on sales tax for operations and any needed capital improvements. When projects, such as our pool project, are needed in a community, sales tax to support the project debt is the most equitable and fastest way to complete projects; and many times, the only way."

The link below will take you to an information packet that contains many pieces of information related to the proposed projects and tax extension. Inside you will find Q and A’s, pictures of proposed projects, breakdowns of how the tax would be used, and much more.

The City of Sallisaw invites everyone to review the packet. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the city hall.

If the sales tax extension is approved, it is estimated that construction could start within 12–14 months.

Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer

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