Ballots for Winfield’s 1-percent sales tax election were mailed out Wednesday and are due back to the Cowley County Clerk’s office by noon June 4, according to county clerk Karen Madison.
Ballots postmarked June 4 but arriving in the clerk’s office afterward will not be valid, Madison said.
The ballots, which were mailed only to people living within the Winfield city limits, asks voters to consider repealing the current .4-percent city sales tax approved in 2014 and replacing it with a 1-percent sales tax to fund construction of a public safety facility and road work projects.
If approved, the new sales tax would go into effect Oct. 1, and sunset after 25 years. It would bring the city’s total sales tax from 7.9 percent to 8.5 percent.
The total estimated cost of the safety center, which would be built on East Ninth Avenue where the former middle school was torn town, is $14 million, with an estimated bond payment of $995,000 a year for 25 years. Any remaining money generated by the tax would fund the street improvements.
Newer facilities for the police and fire departments has been discussed since at least early 2016, and the the city held two town halls to educate the public on the issue.
The sales tax is the preferred funding method, former interim city manager Brenda Peters has said, because it spreads the responsibility for paying among the largest number of people.
Some people have expressed concerned that residents didn’t get to vote on whether to even build the safety center in the first place. Others were concerned about how a sales tax would raise enough money with a shrinking tax base.
Supporters have urged voters to invest in a new facility to replace outdated ones currently used now. An unscientific poll on the CourierTraveler website, as about 5 p.m. Thursday, showed 164 respondents supporting the idea, 135 opposing and 19 with no opinion.