City of Edmond opposes penny sales tax for education

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EDMOND, Okla. - The city of Edmond is causing quite a stir after coming out publicly against a penny sales tax that would give teachers raises.

State Question 779 will be on the ballot in November.

The Edmond city council passed a resolution Monday night calling the penny sales tax “an attack on the limited revenue available for cities in Oklahoma.”

It was a unanimous decision.

“We’re not opposed to teacher pay raises,” said Edmond mayor Charles Lamb. “But, we are opposed to the sales tax as the vehicle to do that.”

“We’re not opposed to teacher increase in salaries and more funding for education, but I think there’s a better way,” said Ward 4 Council Member Nick Massey.

Massey said, if the state question passes, Edmond’s sales tax will be among the highest in the nation at 9.25 percent.

“If we needed to do any type of special revenue sales tax to fund something like our public safety, you start getting up into the 9’s and close to 10," Massey said. "That gets very difficult to do.”

“It’s just really disappointing to see a group of elected officials come out in opposition to a plan when there’s not an alternative solution,” said Amber England with the campaign Yes for 779.

England said they’re working hard to get voters on their side and this is the only plan out there right now.

“We have a comprehensive solution. It’s right here. This is a solution that’s going to increase teacher pay, that’s going to improve reading and high school graduation rates,” England said.

“City of Edmond isn’t alone in their skepticism. The more time that goes by, the more damage that we see this bill is going to do, especially to small communities like Edmond,” said David Lewis, founder and chairman of Ignite Oklahoma, a group that has also come out in opposition to State Question 779.

Lewis said other cities will now probably follow suit, using Edmond’s resolution as an example.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we see this catch on like wildfire across the state,” Lewis said.

The Oklahoma Municipal League said, as far as they know, Edmond is the first city to come out formally opposing the state question.

But, Massey said they’ve already had several phone calls from other city’s leaders asking them about their resolution.