Tahlequah Daily Press


November 5, 2012

City officials have their work cut out

Judging by the results of an online poll the Daily Press conducted, city officials have their work cut out for them if they’re to persuade voters to approve a 3/4-cent sales tax.

Officials aren’t saying voters have to pass the tax to maintain the status quo. But if Tahlequah residents want the infrastructure upgrades and public projects they’ve indicated they’d like to see, they’ll have to pay a tax, sooner or later.

Mayor Jason Nichols has taken heat from a couple of local folks who remind him he campaigned for city council eight years ago on a “no new taxes” plank. When he ran for mayor eight years ago, the city had changed, and so had Nichols’ opinion. In January 2011, he and the other two candidates for mayor participated in a forum, and answered questions. Their responses were published in the Daily Press and are still online at http://tinyurl.com/9bkj55g. In the lead-up to a pertinent question, the candidates were reminded Tahlequah’s permanent 2-cent retail sales tax is the primary source of revenue for the general fund, which pays for most public services – and that this tax is generally less than for other cities of comparable size. The question was: “Do you believe this level of funding is sufficient to meet the future demands for city services? Explain what actions you would take... to support your position.”

Nichols replied: “Tahlequah’s 2-cent tax rate is sufficient for continued operation. ... [The city] will be able to balance the budget and provide the same general level of service. ... The bigger question is whether the current level of service ... will be sufficient to meet the evolving standards of the community. ...It will be possible to collect more revenue without raising the tax rate... [but] it will be up to the people to decide whether they want to do that.”

Nichols’ position remains pretty much the same a year later: Tahlequah can operate at its present level of service with its current tax rate, but if residents want growth and improvements, they might have to consider additional revenue sources.

Claims that the mayor and council have adopted a “tax-and-spend” posture are a bit off the mark. Whereas a state or federal government might pass legislation that would amount to a tax, the city is merely asking voters to decide whether a new tax will, in fact, be levied. If voters say no, that’s that.

On the other hand, officials did approve generous raises for police chief, street commissioner and city clerk, placing the holders of these offices at a pay level well above the average local wage-earner. Though the issues may be unrelated, some folks may reason if the city can afford raises, it can afford infrastructure upgrades without a new tax.

Whatever the case, the tax won’t pass unless supporters are proactive. The largest block of the 228 respondents in our poll – 106, or 46 percent – are “absolutely not” in favor of the tax. Seventeen, or 7 percent, said they would “probably not” favor it. Fifty-eight, or 25 percent, said they “absolutely” favor the tax hike, while 43, or 19 percent, said they would “possibly” favor it, depending on the projects. Four people, 2 percent, were undecided.

The poll isn’t indicative of outcome. Although only city residents will be able to vote, anyone could take the survey. Restrictions on the vote are sticking in the craws of many rural Cherokee Countians, who have no say at the ballot box, but pay the taxes when they shop in Tahlequah.

Over the next few weeks, city officials and residents will be firming up projects they’d like to see funded. Some folks will vote “no,” regardless of how worthwhile the endeavors. Those aren’t the ones supporters need to court. They need to talk to voters who are reserving judgment until the final plan is in place. Progress isn’t free; it’s not even cheap. The question is, are city voters willing to pay the price? For right now, we can’t tell.

Text Only
  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

  • Mom responsible for watching kid; restaurant’s not

    If you allowed your child to drink a bottle of drain cleaner, would you feign surprise when he fell to the floor, twitching and foaming at the mouth? If you left your curling iron within reach of your baby and she pulled it off the vanity and burned her hand, would you plan revenge on the store that sold you the appliance?
    You just might, if you’re among the litigious Americans who have abdicated parental responsibility to either sloth or the hope of a better tomorrow through a cash settlement.

    March 19, 2014


What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing