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Council will consider sales tax

City Council members will be looking this week at a proposal for a new Capital Improvements Program, one that combines public safety projects with funding for Lawton Public Schools, improvements to a Cameron University ball field and upgrades of city infrastructure.

The proposed ordinance, the first public discussion of the list of projects, also would mean convincing Lawton voters to extend two existing sales taxes beyond their Dec. 31, 2014, and June 30, 2015, termination dates, with that combined seven-eighths percent tax to begin Jan. 1, 2015 and end eight years later.

Discussions about a new sales tax proposal have been percolating since spring 2013, when council members launched the process that finalized the 2013-2014 city budget. Until late last year, those public discussions had centered on a public safety tax. The proposal in Tuesday's council packet is a step beyond that. While it includes $40.2 million for public safety issues  most notably, $33.775 million for a new police station/jail/municipal court facility  it also allocates $12.5 million to Lawton Public Schools for school facility and grounds improvements and vehicles; $4.5 million for the East Rogers Lane expansion project; $7.56 million for water and sewer improvements; $4.3 million for library and recreational improvements; and $1 million for repair or replacement of sidewalks to bring them into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The proposal hinges on the public agreeing to extend an existing one-half cent sales tax, now allocated to the, school district which expires Dec. 31, and a three-eighths percent sales tax, dubbed the 2008 Capital Improvements Program, which expires June 30, 2015. The new tax would run for eight years, beginning Jan. 1, 2015, under the proposal.

The Lawton Constitution

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