By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
In its largest margin of victory yet, the 1-cent sales tax won overwhelming support in Tuesday night’s election, receivng an 82 percent vote of approval.
Focus on the Future Committee chair Stan Wilbers was pleased with the results but not surprised.
“I was not that surprised at the margin,” he said. “Most of the citizens I talked to were for the 1 percent sales tax. I think the public appreciated the information we put out. It gave them an opportunity to review what has been done. They came to the conclusion that we have to continue these improvements here in Liberal.”
The 1-cent sales tax was originally installed in 1994 and was renewed in 2001. This extension will keep the tax in place through 2021. The tax has been used for improvements including 15th Street’s epxansion to four lanes, Adventure bay Water Park, baseball fields, park improvements and community building construction, the downtown streetscape project, and many more. There has been more than $50 million spent on local projects with the funds raised by the 1-cent sales tax.
“I think it has wide support from the community,” Wilbers said. “We want to thank the citizens for going to the polls and voting for the extension. It does not raise their taxes, it stays the same. I think the fact that all the money stays here is important. We don’t send any to Washington or to the state. Whenever sales tax dollars are collected they work for our city. I think that has a lot to do with it.”
The city will now be able to review a list of projects that was presented by the citizens of Liberal to be considered with the funds that will be generated with the tax. An estimated $35 million will be raised during the next 10 years.
“The people have spoken on what improvements they want made,” Wilbers said. “We forwarded those to the City Commission in a 15-page report. They were receptive to the report. Focus on the Future is looking forward to the city starting these projects and the continued improvements the city wants.”