2023 SALES TAX ELECTION
Shawnee’s current 40- and 70-year-old wastewater treatment facilities have outlived their design life and must be replaced. To cover the full cost of this vital infrastructure project, the City Commission voted on August 15, 2022 to implement a graduated Utility Improvement Fee which is set to begin on March 1, 2023. Understanding the significance of a new fee, the City Commission asked that voters be given the opportunity to decide whether they prefer to fund this utility project with a fee or sales tax option. A 0.5% sales tax increase would replace the new fee. If approved, the half-cent sales tax would go into effect on April 1, 2023.
As much as possible, the City of Shawnee had prepared for this Wastewater Treatment Plant project by previously securing low-interest loans from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) in 2019 and 2021. However, in the current economic climate, the August 1, 2022 bid for the project came in at $117 million, a significantly higher amount than expected. A delay in the Wastewater Treatment Plant project would have resulted in further cost increases due to rising loan interest rates as well as rising material costs. With the understanding that timing was a critical factor, the City Commission chose to move forward and put in place the incremental Utility Improvement Fee. Once the maximum level is reached, the fee would have a rate of $24 per month ($288 per year) for every utility customer. In comparison, a Shawnee household would have to spend $4,800 in taxable purchases each month to pay the equivalent of the $24 Utility Improvement Fee.
If the sales tax is approved by voters, the Shawnee municipal sales tax rate would increase from 3.5% to 4.0%, for a total of 9.995% on taxable purchases. First pledged towards the repayment of the loan, any surplus tax collection would be invested in critical infrastructure projects, such as repair and replacement of older water and wastewater lines or roadways.
For more information on the upcoming sales tax vote and the Wastewater Treatment Plant, go to
https://www.shawneeok.org/government/mayor_and_city_commission/2023_sales_tax_election/index.php, or contact the City Manager’s Office, City of Shawnee at 405-878-1601 or CityManager@ShawneeOK.org.