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On December 1, 2021, the City of Sallisaw Board of City Commissioners passed a resolution calling for a special election on February 8, 2022.
The purpose of the election is to request an extension of the current ½ cent sales tax that has paid the debt associated with the new sports complex, which was constructed in 2013. The bonds issued for the sports complex will pay off almost 18 months earlier than expected, due to positive sales tax growth.
The City is proposing to extend the ½ cent sales tax for a period not to exceed eight (8) years for the construction of two quality of life projects; a new swim complex and new skateboard park. If extended, estimates are that the ½ cent will provide approximately $6 million for the two (2) proposed projects.
Sallisaw Mayor Ernie Martens commented on the planning that has taken place for the projects. “These projects have been discussed and planned for several years. The City’s long term vision was to construct a new swimming pool after the sports complex debt was paid off. We are very excited that we have arrived at this point a little earlier than originally anticipated. City staff has put together a great plan for both the swim complex and skateboard park. Earmarking sales tax makes paying for projects equitable for everyone. Another great thing about utilizing sales tax is that traffic off of Interstate 40 who stop and spend money in Sallisaw also contribute to project funding. These quality of life projects will give our families two excellent venues where they can spend time and children can play. When these projects are complete and operational, they will be something our community can be proud of, and will benefit Sallisaw for generations to come.”
The city pool facility was built in 1960 at a cost of approximately $103,000. Funding was provided by liquor taxes that were in place from 1960 through 1971. For over 60 years this pool has served generations of families in Sallisaw, as well as the surrounding area. Over the last several years, deterioration of the pool has created numerous issues for city crews. Crumbling concrete and deterioration of the bathhouse have been challenging to overcome while trying to keep the pool open. It also has no features seen in newer, modern pools, such as slides, beach entry and other water features. The new pool will be constructed in the same location on Redwood Street and will be ADA compliant. Several locations are being evaluated for the proposed skateboard park, including Alex Denton Park on East Delaware Street.
City Manager Keith Skelton commented on the upcoming election. “We are very excited about the possibility of constructing a new swim complex and skateboard park. The early payoff of the sports complex debt provides our community with a great opportunity to construct much needed improvements. The facts regarding this request are very simple. The ½ cent sales tax will not be an increase. If approved, it will merely extend the current ½ cent that is already in place. Since 2001, Sallisaw has utilized this same ½ cent for the betterment and progress of our community. The question we will be asking citizens on February 8, 2022, is very simple: Will you grant us the opportunity to construct these projects for the benefit of future generations of Sallisaw families? Sallisaw is a very unique community, who has always been blessed with pro-active citizens, leaders, and city councils. Decades later, we continue to reap the benefits of their foresight and vision for Sallisaw citizens and their families. It is now our turn to pay it forward for future generations.
More information on the projects will be posted to the city’s social media sites in the coming weeks. If the sales tax extension is approved, it is estimated that construction could start within 12-14 months.