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[Archived] Siloam Springs wants new 1-cent sales tax for new treatment plant

| MEETINGS | April 21, 2017


City Administrator David Cameron said he plans to hold a series of meetings, with the first Monday, continuing with two each month at the city administration building.


He said he will be available to answer tax payers’ questions about the uses for the revenue from 4:30-6 p.m. on Monday.


The public meetings are the first step in Cameron’s approach up to a future vote on the tax.


A new 1-cent sales tax would guarantee a loan to pay for a $16 million to $20 million sewage treatment plant, which is necessary because of federal water quality standards.


Cameron and directors also discussed adding other projects to the list, such as a new electric substation, development of the regional park or restoring Sager Creek. City leaders want input on the value of certain projects to citizens, as well as their opinions about the contemplated tax.


He has prepared postersize images of the various projects the new tax could fund.


The city is hopeful about the prospect of federal and state money for a portion of the wastewater treatment plant project, but it is preparing to fund the entire project locally until a commitment is received from other entities.


If a sales tax is not approved by voters, the city may fund the plant by increasing rates. Funding the project with a rate increase, or even half of the needed funds with a rate increase, would easily double rates for residential customers.


The plant is needed to comply with clean-water regulations enacted by Oklahoma, and thereafter adopted by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. Siloam Springs agreed with Oklahoma to begin building a new plant in 2007 and have it in use by 2009.


Oklahoma adopted a limit on phosphorus in scenic rivers within its borders, and such laws are federally binding on surrounding states from which said rivers flow.


Siloam Springs’ 2003 contract with Oklahoma requires the city to reduce phosphorus output from the wastewater plant to a maximum of 1 mg/L. In 2012, Oklahoma will review its standard, and may decide to enforce the 0.0375 mg/L standard it has already adopted, Cameron said.


The city calculated that a 1-cent sales tax would generate about $2.5 million in 2005.


The board approved a pilot project June 21, to test water treatment companies side-byside before choosing one to complete the plant.