Sales tax election to be held Tuesday in Durant

By: Emi FitzGerald Email
By: Emi FitzGerald Email

DURANT, Okla. -- A proposed sales tax increase for Durant is the talk of the town in Bryan County. Some say it would drive shoppers south of the Red River. Others say it's a necessity.

The polls open Tuesday morning, and after much education and debate, the decision is in the hands of Durant voters.

The sign is ready shows the land is ready for a new high school. But are voters?

"I expect the new school will have more for them to have when they get there," Janie Sanchez says. Sanchez has three elementary age children in the district. Her oldest, an 11-year-old, says she can't wait to walk through the halls of a new building.

"It makes me really excited to know she's really excited about school. There's something new coming, something new for her and still be more for her when it gets here."

If the sales tax passes, shoppers in Durant could expect to pay about 62 more cents per $100 they spend. In a time when budgets are tight, some say it could make spending tighter.

"I’m excited for her and my kids, but not so much for my pockets."

School administrators say the middle school building is old, dilapidated, and beyond repair. By state law, the district cannot afford a bond election, leaving a sales tax increase as their only option.

"We need our youth to have the best learning environment possible and it's just a commitment to our youth," Durant Schools superintendent Terry James says.

Some shoppers say they will go to Sherman and Denison instead of Durant, where the sales tax is lower.

Either way, officials say voters will decide the direction of the future on Tuesday.

Superintendent Terry James says they have already talked with architects, and if it passes, the school would take about two years to complete. That means this year's eighth graders would be the first senior class in the new building.

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  • by Fred Location: Durant on Apr 1, 2008 at 04:14 PM
    I went to vote on the Durant Bond Issue today and was told that because I don't live in the city limits, I can't vote. If it passes, those of us who don't live in the city limits will still be paying the added sales tax. That amounts to taxation without representation....something the American Revolution was about. Seems to me that this is unconstitutional. I would urge anyone not living in the Durant city limits to do business elsewhere. Maybe Denison or Sherman. That's what I'll be doing.
  • by doubtful Location: east side on Apr 1, 2008 at 01:37 PM
    Durant claims only enough property valuation for a $9 million debt. While Kingston is voting on a 12.5 million bond today. Granted, there's far more acreage involved, but come on!! There is something fishy about those figures. //JL, many of the same crotchety old motel owners that shot down the hotel tax are shooting at this tax, too. The teachers really love the sales tax idea...they all have Sam's Club Cards through the union!
  • by Taxpayer & Business Owner Location: Durant, OK on Apr 1, 2008 at 12:47 PM
    I went to vote this morning, and was told that I wasn't eligible to vote because I lived across the street from the city limits and was not officially in the Durant School District. I own property all over Durant and a business in Durant, yet I don't get to even cast a vote?? Amazing! 41 million dollar school . . . not the proper time!
  • by JL Location: Durant on Apr 1, 2008 at 11:55 AM
    Ah yes...the popular tug-on-the-heart strings "if you care about future of your children, you'll vote yes" phrase. Ugh... I certainly want my daughter to experience a quality education with superior facilities, but I don't want her to pay 9%-10% in sales tax over the next 20 years in order to get it. There needs to be a bit of compromise before we commit to such a large-scale endeavor. By the way, how is it that the proposed hotel-motel tax to pay for county infrastructure improvements/economic development/tourism was so easily snuffed out by a handful of local hotel owners, whereas this proposal is so much more relevant and important? Imagine the benefits of what a small tax surcharge to a lodging bill (that most people are used to paying in other cities) would have done for the area - which would have (primarily) been footed by the out-of-town gambling crowd, not by my daughter or the rest of Durant's children.
  • by County Resident Location: Bryan County on Apr 1, 2008 at 08:08 AM
    I would like to say THANK YOU DURANT for caring about our children's future and for continue to help BRYAN COUNTY grow! I hope every Durant Resident that CAN vote will vote YES!
  • by Nikki Location: Oklahoma on Apr 1, 2008 at 05:19 AM
    If you seriously want the building in which your students will be learning to be half rate then what do you expect your students to be? Give your students the best and watch them be the best.
  • by County Citizen Location: County on Mar 31, 2008 at 09:07 PM
    On the eve of the election, ask yourself this question. Why does Durant ISD not have enough ad valorem evaluation to build a new high school? Two reasons come to my mind. One,how many millions in evaluation are not on the tax roll because several large recruited industries got an ad valorem tax abatement? Two, why does Durant ISD have to build a 41 million dollar Taj Mahal? A more functional campus could be built for half the price.
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