Voting begins on the sales tax for Marshall County fire departments

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MARSHALL COUNTY, OK -- Today's the first day of early voting in Oklahoma's primary election and Marshall County firefighters are asking for your vote on a proposal that would help them get some much needed new equipment.

Marshall County residents headed to the polls Thursday, casting early ballots on a proposed quarter cent sales tax for fire departments.

"The need is dramatic. I mean, the newest vehicle that we have is a 2002 vehicle," said Wes Saxon, fire chief of the Huani creek volunteer fire department.
He says they pay for equipment with donations and a small grant from the state.

"It's called an operational grant and that money is slowly starting to decrease," said Saxon.

Saxon says new equipment, like tanker trucks, would help when time is of the essence.

"Sometimes that becomes a hindrance, when you don't have enough tankers and you don't have enough water supply to help with your fires, you're having to call in mutual aid," said Saxon.

"Our communities are growing. The need for the fire department is not going away. It's not ever going away and the funding strains are always going to be there. So I would say in order to keep your departments here and operating and able to grow with the community, then we really need your support," said Kuykendall.

Marshall county fire and safety chairman, James Kuykendall says ten of the eleven departments in the county are fully volunteer.
He says if the tax is approved, tourist dollars would help fund the departments as well.

"We have several visitors come in for Lake Texoma and tourist and the figures we're seeing are about 40 to 50 percent of this tax would be funded by people coming into the county and tourism," said Kuykendall.

Marshall county commissioner, Chris Duroy, says new equipment purchased with tax dollars could also help lower insurance rates.

"If you spend 50 dollars in sales tax over the year and you turn around and save 2 or 3 hundred dollars a year on your insurance, because their ISO rating with the training and everything, It could work out to be a really good deal," said Duroy.

Residents have mixed reactions to the proposed tax.

"I wouldn't say a quarter would be, I mean, that's a little too much to me I think. But a little bit would be okay," said Michelle Edwards.

David Cummings said, "I believe our firefighters need all the help they can get, especially in Marshall county, so i'd definitely be all for it."

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