Following a recent court ruling over funding for the Gary E. Miller Juvenile Justice Center, Canadian County Commissioners decided last week to rescind a special election they had set for Feb. 10 to change how a tax approved by voters in 1996 is appropriated.
The juvenile center was built and has since paid salaries and programs with funds from a 1996 .35 percent of once-cent sales tax approved by Canadian County voters in 1996.
However, a state attorney general’s opinion issued last fall said the center could not use that tax to pay salaries and programs.
Since that opinion came down, the commissioners stopped using the tax to fund the center and have funded it, for the most part, with the County Use Tax and with contracts the center has in force with the state.
Commissioners later came up with a proposal to appropriate 86 percent of the funds generated by the tax to the center, and use the other 14 percent of the tax for either the center or other county projects.
The commissioner had set the Feb. 10 special election to send the proposal to the voters for approval.
Center supporters were adamant that the full .35 percent of one-cent was needed to adequately fund the center. They noted that some of the state contract were over and the Use Tax would not generate enough revenue for the center to operate.
A group, headed by two former county commissioners, members of the center’s advisory board and Sheriff Randall Edwards joined together to file a lawsuit which was heard Jan. 8 by Oklahoma County Special Judge Roger Stuart.
The judge restored center funding to the full .35 percent of the penny it had been receiving before commissioners took action on the AG’s opinion.
It was reported that the county has already racked up some costs for the Feb. 10 special election that has now been pulled off the table.
The county will have to cough up over $12,000 to pay for ballots already printed, while school districts having school board elections in Canadian County on that day will reportedly have to pay to have new ballots printed for those elections.
School districts holding elections on Feb. 10 will also bear the entire cost of paying for precinct workers for any school elections held that day in the county.