Updated: July 14, 2021
Thank you all for voting! The Jones Board of Trustees appreciate the trust you’ve shown in us and we do not take it lightly. We will continue to work on earning it further!
Ray Poland, Mayor
July 13, 2021 Election Results
4 of 4 (100.00%) Election Day Precincts Reporting
|Candidate Choice||Absentee Mail||Early Voting||Election Day||Total Votes||Percent|
|FOR THE PROPOSITION – YES||9||4||141||154||62.6% Complete|
|AGAINST THE PROPOSITION – NO||2||0||90||92||37.4% Complete|
Updated: July 12, 2021
There is much being said about the .01c Sales Tax vote of Tue. July 13, 2021. Of the 3 Facebook pages focused on issues concerning our town, it seems most of the chatter is on the page I have been denied access to. Jones is a small town, I hear things, some good, some bad. I take all I “hear” with a grain of salt. But PLEASE, hear what I have to say about this issue?
I have given, with split service, 17 years as Trustee, the last 12 as Mayor, to the Town of Jones City. I am a 25-year member of the Jones Kiwanis Club, an 11-year member of Jones Masonic Lodge #537, and a 40+ member of Jones United Methodist Church (although I don’t attend as often as I probably should). I am not unique in our town, I only tell you this to illustrate that my heart lies in Jones! As Mayor, I have no other agenda than to make our town the greatest place for you to raise your family and do business. If you truly know me, you should know this to be true. Am I perfect, despite what my mother thinks, I am not! But I try to do what is best for Jones with every decision or vote I take. And I do so with the future of Jones in my thoughts.
Tuesday’s vote is such an issue! Whether we want it to or not, our town is growing, has been for the last 10 years. But our water and wastewater infrastructure has only been able to barely keep pace. We are in desperate need of improvements, not only for our current customers but for any future growth. We must be able to offer these services to any new development, whether it be 1 house or 50, or any commercial business wanting to locate here. We must have a new water well and tank in order to provide the needed pressure to serve all customers as well as the fire hydrants. It will also provide more fire hydrants, which in turn should lower insurance rates. As for the wastewater system, we need to increase the capacity of the treatment plant as well as replace many of the aging sewer lines and manholes throughout town! Folks, these are critical!
For years, I and previous Trustees, have tried to find funding for these projects only to be disappointed that “free money” (Grants) are very few and then VERY competitive. Grants tend to be awarded to towns where they can do the best, i.e. more populated than Jones. We have explored and settled on funding from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board for a low interest (currently 2%) 30-year loan, but it is contingent on passing the tax increase.
The language on the ballot states that the increase is for “Capital Expenditures.” Capital Expenditures cover many items, but the Jones Board of Trustees is committed to using them for our immediate needs of the water and wastewater systems. Any funds collected above the needed amount to satisfy the loan payment could be used for future capital expenditures.
I don’t know anybody that likes paying taxes, or anyone that enjoys raising taxes, I know I don’t like either. But I also know that in Oklahoma, city services are funded by a combination of sales tax and Public Works revenue. When the cost of services/infrastructure exceeds revenue and expenses have been stretched as thin as possible, one or both sources of revenue must be increased. Jones has a policy of raising utility rates each year that are tied to the annual “Cost Of Living Allowance.” If the Federal Government issues a COLA, rates increase equally. No COLA, no increase. In order to fund the needed improvements with a rate increase, it could cause us to raise each water/wastewater customers’ rate as much as $50. per month. The Board of Trustees feel this would be irresponsible of us as none of the current elected Trustees are connected to the system and would not be affected by the increase. We also would not benefit from the improvements, however, each of us is willing to share in the cost of these improvements for the future of our town. Y’all trusted us enough to elect us to office, we are asking for your continued trust! Please vote in favor of the .01c Sales Tax increase on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at your regular polling precinct for the future of our town!
If you have questions, please feel free to contact me, Mayor Ray Poland, at 405-831-2813, or any of the other Trustees. Please don’t rely on any of the 3 Facebook pages or personal blogs for accurate information.
Posted: May 10, 2021
I do not know that I have ever met anyone in my life that enjoys paying taxes. I know I do not! But I also know that if I did not pay taxes, many of the services we tend to take for granted would not exist. Such as police protection, fire protection, sidewalks, roads, welfare, unemployment insurance, you get the picture. I realize these examples are a mix of federal, state, county, and municipal services, however, they are all funded by some method of taxation.
Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution gives Congress the power to “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” In the state of Oklahoma, or in any other state for that matter, municipalities don’t have that power. That power lies with the citizens of each municipality, by virtue of the vote. As it should be. When the elected body of a municipality has exhausted all other sources of funding then they must pass a resolution asking the citizens to vote on a tax increase to fund the services we all have come to expect.
Why is the Jones Board of Trustees asking the citizens to support a one-cent sales tax increase for capital expenditures? We have an aging infrastructure as it relates to water and wastewater. There are both, water and sewer lines that are over 50 years old. We currently have a water storage tank with a 315,000 gal. capacity, with only 10,000 gals usable. It was purchased and installed in 1967. It is served by 2 water wells with a 150 gallon per minute pumping capacity. Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality requires a municipal water system to maintain a 25-psi pressure throughout its system. Because ours is a “storage tank”, when the water level drops to certain levels, our water pressure in jeopardy of dropping to below 25 psi. which could result in an ODEQ fine. The proposed new water well and the pedosphere-style tower have the ability to maintain constant pressure throughout our system.
When I was elected Mayor in 2009 the water and wastewater issues already existed. In 2010 the city completed a “Capital Improvement Plan,” and these much-needed improvements were at the top of the list. Over the years we have tried to find a way to afford them. Despite what some past Trustees might tell you, we have discussed many options, including a sales tax increase. Although every option may not have been discussed in a Board of Trustee meeting, they were conversations we had. I have requested and been open to, any ideas and solutions from past Trustees for funding. Over the years we have applied for and received grants from the Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) for funding, but these were mere “band-aids” for our system. I have traveled to Washington D.C., with hat in hand, and have asked Sen Jim Inhofe, Sen. James Lankford, Congresswoman Kendra Horn, Congressman Frank Lucas, and Congressman Tom Cole’s staff, of our Washington Delegation for federal dollars to help with our needs. As recently as this past Wednesday, I met with Senator James Lankford and explained our dire need for infrastructure money. I have asked as many State Representatives and Senators that will listen, for funds to help with our issues, only to be denied. However, this will not deter me from continuing with my requests on your behalf.
The Jones Board of Trustees passed a resolution to call for a vote of our citizens for a .01c sales tax increase. We did not come to this decision lightly or hastily. Although the majority of the current board is new, Missy Wilkinson, Casey Burwell, Frank Koehler, and Chris Calvert are very aware of the infrastructure needs of our town and the financial challenges we face.
Why not pass a “Bond Issue”? Oklahoma is a unique state when it comes to taxation. We are the only state in the USA that separates property taxes and sales tax between counties and municipalities. Property taxes, also known as Ad Valorem, is typically dedicated to counties and schools. In Oklahoma County Ad Valorem fund the following:
- Oklahoma City-County Health
- Eastern OK Co. Career Tech 23
- Jones Schools
- Metro Library
- Oklahoma County
- Countywide Schools
Municipalities collect and allocate sales tax for general operations and services and receive no Ad Valorem unless a “Bond Issue” is passed by a vote of the people. Typically, “Bond Issues” passed by Municipalities are used for, but not limited to, streets, police/fire departments buildings, and parks. Historically, Jones citizens have rejected Municipal Bond Issues. But we have been awesome at supporting Bond Issues for our schools! In order for the city to ask the citizens to support a Bond Issue, we would have to ask for a larger bond than any other ever requested in our history. Whether by the city or Jones Public Schools and would raise property/Ad Valorem taxes outrageously.
In her editorial in the Jones Journal, Sarah Boggs claims, “If Jones adopts a 1% sales tax increase, then local retail businesses will have a combined loss in revenue of $1.2 million in just one year!” Her numbers are a worst-case scenario from an eight-year-old study. If this last year of a major pandemic has us taught anything, it is that scientific, statistical models can be wrong, especially when not all variables are accounted for. Furthermore, there is a real danger in over-interpreting results. Please keep this in mind.
I would encourage you to follow The Oklahomawat.org Totals Sales Tax by City to see how many towns in our state have sales taxes greater the .08% and I would ask that you research the impact it has had on these towns.
Why not raise rates on our water customers? A city ordinance requires rates to be raised annually equal to the federal cost-of-living allowance (COLA). So if the Federal Government doesn’t impose a COLA, neither do we. Through this method, we have steadily increased rates in small increments in order to put ourselves in a position to ask for funds to pay for our infrastructure needs. It must be pointed out that none of the current Trustees is connected to the town’s water or wastewater system. If we raised those rates, none of us would be affected by it. This would be irresponsible of us. Each and every Trustee is willing to share in the burden of the cost of these improvements even though none of us are connected to either system.
Why wouldn’t we take advantage of the USDA Rural Economic Development Loan & Grant Program? We researched this opportunity, and it was determined that Jones’ “Median Household Income” is higher than the required threshold to qualify and therefore cannot take advantage of the grant opportunity.
Why not do a combination of a rate increase and 1/2c sales tax? Again, the ratepayers would be carrying a disproportionate share of the burden. What does a .01c sales tax mean to the individual shopper? For every $100 you spend in a Jones business, you will pay an extra dollar in sales tax. Whereas water and utility customers, many of whom are on a fixed income, would face the possibility of paying an increase in excess of $40 per month. Granted, this too is the worst-case scenario.
Initially, funds raised through the additional .01c sales tax will be used to fund capital expenditures related to the improvements needed for our water and wastewater system. We will seek a loan with the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) to finance these improvements. OWRB will require funds to be pledged to repay the loan. Any funds collected over the amount needed to repay the loan may be used to fund future capital expenditures/improvements, such as but not limited to, vehicles for city and Public Works, PWA equipment, and expansion of utility services within the city limits. There is a constant need for capital improvements throughout the town.
I watched my father-in-law, Ex-Mayor Bill Hoag, pour his heart and soul into our great town for 40+ years and learned how to serve from him and many other men and women throughout my life. I will continue to serve this town in the best ways that I can for as long as you, the voter, hold trust in me. If the sales tax vote fails, I will continue to work for the citizens of Jones and plead with anyone that will listen, for funds to improve our town. Please join us for the “Special Meeting” Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at 6 pm at Jones City Hall to hear our plan and address any concerns.
Ray Poland, Mayor
May 9, 2021