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Small sales tax serves all in county

The McClain County Sheriff’s Department stands to gain if voters on Tuesday approve an 8-year extension for the county’s half-cent sales tax.

That’s the good news.

Sheriff Don Hewett doesn’t like to think about the impact on his department if voters opt to end the small tax instead.

Law enforcement receives 25 percent of the revenue raised by the present tax. Of that, the sheriff’s department’s cut is 19.4 percent.

In a year’s time, that has totaled $670,664 or just under $59,000 per month.

Hewett said the revenue helps pay salaries and has enabled the department to obtain and equip a couple of vehicles. “If it (extension) fails, I’ll have to lay off some individuals,” he said.

Hewett isn’t sure of the exact number.

It depends, he said, if the county can dip into the general fund to replace any of the  lost revenue.

He thinks the staff cuts could eliminate 4 to 6 jobs – a heavy hit in a department with just 33 full-time staff and one part-timer.

Including Hewett, there are 18 commissioned officers and two administrative assistants in the department.

The McClain County Detention Center has a staff of 13. There is also a transport deputy who works three days a week.

The extension proposition before the voters will raise the outlay for law enforcement to 33 percent, of which 30 percent would go directly to the sheriff’s department.

The 5 percent bump will mean Hewett can hire “at least two more deputies.”

“We really need that,” he continued. “If it loses, we may not be able to have 24-hour coverage. We won’t have the personnel to do it.”

The proposed distribution of sales tax revenue will also allot 30 percent of the proceeds to fire departments in McClain County.

There are 11 fire departments in the county and each will receive an equal share. They are Blanchard, Byars, Cole, Dibble, Golds-by, Newcastle, Payne, Purcell, Rosedale, Washington and Wayne.

Anticipated annual income per department is $103,824.

The public safety measure before voters also includes 10 percent for county facilities and 2 percent for emergency management.

In a separate proposition, essential services would share the remaining 25 percent as follows – 7 percent each to 4-H /OSU Cooperative Extension, economic development and senior citizens and 4 percent to the McClain County Free Fair.

In-person absentee voting is today (Thursday) and Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the McClain County Election Board office in the courthouse.

Polling places across the county will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

The Newcastle Pacer

P.O. Box 429

120 NE 2nd, Suite 102 - Newcastle, Oklahoma 73065

405-387-5277