Proposition tax advocates cite examples of its success
ADA, Jul 22, 2012 (Menafn - Ada Evening News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --With the help of a one-cent sales tax, Ada acquired an asphalt plant, upgraded the city's sewer system and improved its roads. Sales tax dollars also helped Ada retain Pre-Paid Legal Service's corporate headquarters and recruit the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET), as well as other companies.
Those projects were financed with proceeds from Propositions 1 and 2, which have been in place since 1998. Voters approved proposals to renew the tax in 2002 and again in 2007.
The tax is up for renewal again in August, which prompted a legislative luncheon on the topic Friday at the Pontotoc County Technology Center. Ada Area Chamber of Commerce sponsors the monthly luncheons to educate people on local, state and federal issues.
The sales tax question will appear on the Aug. 28 ballot, along with the runoff vote for the 2nd District seat on the Pontotoc County Commission.
Helping the city
Proposition 1 generated nearly 30 million in sales tax revenues for the city over the past 13 years, said Ann Miller, director of marketing and research for Ada Jobs Foundation. Those dollars financed a variety of public works projects, including street improvements and water line upgrades.
"They spent 17 million just on streets," she said. "And when you add the asphalt facility that they just recently purchased, you're almost to 19 mil-
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lion just on our city streets."
Miller said the city also invested 2.3 million in sales tax dollars on water projects and 8 million on sewer system upgrades.
Proposition 2 dollars are earmarked for economic development projects, including attracting new businesses and keeping existing ones.
Ada businesses have created or protected more than 2,000 jobs with the help of sales tax dollars, said Monica Neal, who serves on the Proposition 2 committee.
For instance, Proposition 2 dollars helped the city
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attract or retain a variety of businesses, starting with the Sykes Enterprises call center in 1999. The business generated 600 new jobs before it closed its doors in 2004.
"For those of you who were in town in 1998 or 1999, when we were working on that problem, that was a huge triumph back then," Neal said, referring to Sykes recruitment. "Now we can look at it in hindsight and say, 'Maybe it wasn't such a good thing,' and or at least those who are wanting to challenge it would say that.
"What I would say is that we brought 600 jobs to town at that time, when unemployment was 8.8 percent. We put 600 people to work."
Neal said Ada enjoyed several business successes with the help of Proposition 2 funding, including the retention of Pre-Paid Legal Service -- now known as Legal Shield -- in 2000. That project alone created 232 jobs and protected 443 others.
Other Prop. 2 projects included CLEET, which created 40 new jobs; Flex-N-Gate manufacturing plant, which generated 208 jobs and protected 300 more; and Interactive Response Technologies call center, which created 400 jobs.
Overall, the city has invested about 6.45 million in sales tax dollars in economic development projects, creating more than 1,600 new jobs in 13 years, Neal said. She added that the Chickasaw Nation was partially responsible for that growth.
"Thank you to the Chickasaw Nation, because that's attributable -- a whole lot of that -- to them," she said.
The San Jose Mercury News
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