In our conversations with representatives of Pontotoc County volunteer fire departments over the last few weeks we have gained an even greater respect for what they do. Pontotoc County volunteer firefighters are dedicated to their communities and earnest in their desire to serve and protect.
But something is amiss with the way in which they are seeking to raise money by upping Ada’s already high sales tax rate by one-quarter of a percent. For one thing, all volunteer fire departments do not have equal needs nor do they share in the expansive mission those who are pushing this tax envision for themselves. Yet, if voters approve the measure, all volunteer Pontotoc County fire departments will receive a 1,772 percent increase in funding, from $4,400 a year to an estimated $78,000 a year.
The city of Ada’s fire department is included in the wording of this measure, which means Ada residents will be paying double for service they already receive.
Pontotoc County’s sales tax rate, at 9.188 percent, is one of the highest in the state. Adding another quarter cent would take it to 9.4 percent, almost a full percentage point higher than Shawnee’s 8.5 percent and more than a percent higher than Norman’s 8.25 percent.
The total amount of money generated if this tax increase passes is approximately $1.1 million of Pontotoc County residents’ disposable income.
As important as volunteer fire departments are, one issue looms even larger in our area’s near future. It is water itself. Oklahoma Water Resources Board’s recent decision to reduce by 90 percent the amount of water we can draw from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer will mean Ada residents will soon be paying significantly more for water.
Instead of a sales tax paid for by all residents, those departments needing additional funds beyond their fundraisers should consider implementing a subscription service in the specific areas in which they serve.
—The Ada News