Street sales tax keeps funds available for projects

Ponca City Now - February 3, 2016 1:03 pm

On Feb. 9, Ponca City voters will be presented with the opportunity to approve indefinitely the continuation of a one-half cent sales tax dedicated to street iimprovements.

The tax was first approved in 1987 and has been renewed every five consecutive years by an average margin of 78.2 percent. This has allowed Ponca City residents to enjoy the highest quality, most efficient, up-to-date street system in the state. Other cities struggle to maintain even the most basic street infrastructure.

Ponca City has made improvements to each and every major street within the city and installed modern, efficient traffic signal devices at every major intersection.

Approving the tax extension would give the city a long-term, reliable source of funding for ongoing maintenance and larger capital projects. Today, it provides about $2 million a year for street improvements.

Projects such as the Fifth Street extension from Hartford to Prospect, the widening of Waverly, Hartford and Prospect and the reconstruction of the iconic Lake Ponca Bridge would have languished for years without this local source of funding.

Many communities have street systems in dire need of improvement, but have no dedicated funding source to address this problem.

Capital street projects cost millions to construct and therefore cannot be funded from a City’s annual capital improvement program. The half-cent street sales tax has helped the city leverage more than $10 million in federal and state funds in the past 28 years to complete these types of projects.

Federal and State street projects are programmed years in advance. Local government must be in a position to plan for the future as well, and having funding on hand and available to budget the local share of project costs when the time comes to do so.

A dependable revenue stream from the street sales tax gives Ponca City that ability and it has been essential in securing larger projects funded through federal and state agencies, such as the widening of Waverly Street to four lanes from U.S. Highway 60 north to Sykes Boulevard.

The impact of the street improvement sales tax on Ponca City’s roadway system has been significant, but street improvements are not a "one and done" proposition.

More than $58 million has been spent on street projects as a result of the street sales tax. A total of $10.1 million has been spent in the past five years alone. Street maintenance is an ongoing process that requires continual funding.

Maintaining the current levels of investment in Ponca City’s excellent street system will sustain the progress that has been made over the past 28 years.

In the future, a larger percentage of street sales tax funds will be used to maintain the current street system, as well as to implement a Master Trail Plan and improve ADA accessibility along major streets so that alternative transportation modes may be explored to the fullest extent possible.


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