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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