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Commissioners hope to put longtime penny sales tax to another vote in Rogers County

Commissioners hope to put longtime penny sales tax to another vote in Rogers County (KTUL)

CLAREMORE, Okla., (KTUL) -- A penny sales tax voted down in June is hurting the budget in Rogers County.

Voters have approved the tax for decades and now commissioners are working to get it back on the ballot.

Progress has been constant in Rogers County for years.

Just like the fire that burns outside the courthouse.

But that progress is flickering.

“We’re not really feeling the full affects yet and the public isn’t really feeling the full affects yet," said Commissioner Steve Hendrix.

The issue, a penny sales tax commissioner Steve Hendrix says voters didn’t approve in June.

He blames in on a crowded ballot.

“I think the majority of voters want the tax," said Hendrix.

Ever since the county has been battling the budget.

Going two months now without the money.

“It affects the quality of life, it affects the safety of the county," said Hendrix.

The loss of the sales tax which has been approved every five years since 1988, is being felt around the county.

In fact Hendrix fears his own employees could lose their job.

“If this is a permanent situation, I have 18 road hands that go out and work on these roads for us, I would probably go down to six so it would mean layoffs for us," said Hendrix.

Without the sales tax Hendrix says bridge repair projects like East 156th avenue in Collinsville wont be possible.

“Hopefully this is a bump in the road and a minor setback and we’ll get the tax back and we’ll go onto bigger and better things," said Hendrix.

The problem is Hendrix is a commissioner and cannot lobby for a new vote on the sales tax.

“It’s vitally important that people show up to vote," said Claremore Economic Developer John Leary.

John Leary knows how important the penny sales tax has been.

It’s helped improve roads in and around Claremore.

“12,000 miles of roadway that we maintain so people can get to work in Claremore, Tulsa and Catoosa," said Leary.

He says Rogers County is a manufacturing community.

So if the tax is not approved again, it could greatly affect the local economy.

“There’s going to be an impact felt across the board in the county," said Leary.

Without the sales tax Leary says law enforcement, schools and other areas are at risk.

Which is why he’s working with a group to get the sales tax back on a ballot in a special election.

“It’s something that we absolutely need," said Leary.

Paying a tax that’s paying for the county’s future.

Right now commissioners have a special election planned Feb. 12.

It will be one question so voters aren’t confused.

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