May 2, 2013

Tuttle mayor: Fairgrounds tax opposition a minority

The Express-Star

TUTTLE — Opposition to the continuance of the ¼ cent sales tax that would fund additions and upgrades to Grady County Fairgrounds now appears to be much more of a minority across the county, even in the north where a Commissioner has come out against the measure.

Todd Littleton, a councilman in Tuttle where proponents of the tax continuance believe a large portion of opposition will originate, said he understands why County Commissioner Windle Hardy would be against it, but has not heard any negative comments from his constituents.

“Windle [Hardy] has mentioned that he’s faced with cuts and there are needs elsewhere in the county,” Littleton said. “He can make an argument, because he gets calls from people saying ‘why can’t you fix this road,’ and he has to tell them that its simply not in the budget. I have not heard from anyone that has been opposed, but I’m sure there are some.”

The Fairgrounds Board has announced that if the tax does continue, they will launch plans to remodel the current outdoor arena so it can host events such as rodeos and motocross. Also planned is a brand new climate-controlled indoor arena that will enable the Fairgrounds to host larger events. Horse shows and barrel racing have been identified as events the facilities could gain from an expansion.

Those against the tax continuance are most likely the same people who prefer to travel into Oklahoma City rather than take the same distance south to Chickasha, Littleton said. Hardy said he does not believe the increase in revenue for businesses from having more travelers come into town for events at the Fairgrounds will make it up to the northern reaches of the county, so the ¼ cent sales tax could be put to better use. Tuttle Mayor Bobby Williams agrees with this sentiment, but still believes that there are benefits for the entire county by continuing the tax and that the opposition is in a minority.

“I’m sure all of the people involved in agriculture are all for it,” Williams said. “But we’ve also got people that live outside of Tuttle that work in Oklahoma City and never even go through the town. Those are the people that would probably not be for it. I’d like to see it continue. It’s not a whole lot of money, and I don’t want to see it go away. If it does, I don’t think we’d ever see it come back.”

Tuttle City Council passed a resolution on April 8 that did not indicate they favored any position on the tax continuance; rather, it simply asks that people in the city get out and vote when it comes up on the ballot May 14. Littleton’s thoughts on the issue mirror those in the resolution.

“I’m ambivalent about it,” he said. “Part of me would have to think through it from an outgoing fellow councilman of mine, Jay Brunson. His family has been involved in agriculture, cattle showing; so consequently, they have benefitted from improved fairgrounds.”

Mayor Williams said he is concerned that few people will bother to vote on May 14, although he has a feeling those who do think highly of improving the fairgrounds.

“The positive thing it, the people that are for it are the ones that are going to vote, I hope,” Williams said.