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August 28, 2013

The water effect

An election is dividing voters, but there's more to the future of Chickasha's water than a 3/4 cent tax

(Continued)

CHICKASHA —

Debate over the renewal has surged in the recent weeks. 

The city wants to keep the tax unrestricted, so the revenue it generates can go toward water, streets and sewers, where as the Grady County TEA Party, and several of its members have asked for the money to be earmarked almost  exclusively for water to combat its taste, smell and appearance. 

The reality is, no matter which side comes out victorious, the issues that the TEA Party  has expressed issues with in regards to Chickasha's water are here to stay. 

Keeling likened the tax to a blank check. Previously renewals of the tax have been used to fund parks and recreation and Keeling said he could see the same thing happen here. 

Ideally, Keeling said he'd like to see the tax voted down and brought back as a 1/4, or 1/8 cent sales tax for five years, tagged strictly for water. 

"I'll buy it for five years," he said. "We've done this for 20 years with no results. Over the last 10 years, the city has only used 26 percent of that tax money for water, our most important issue." 

Despite Keeling's comments, Ross contests a large portion of the tax revenue will go toward starting the process of replacing water infrastructure. However, without this tax, there are virtually no other sources of revenue to repair sewage and roads. 

"We will be funding water repairs, but we will also be using it for our street overlay projects," said Ross. "Over the past few years, we have spent $400,000 or $500,000 a year on our streets and we want to double or triple that for the next few years to bring our streets up to snuff." 

Keeling said he considers water and sewage issues to be one in the same, even though earmarking the tax strictly for water would take money from sewage infrastructure. 

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