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Marion Commission approves referendum placing Penny Sales Tax on ballot this November

Marion County commissioners have cleared the way for the Penny Sales Tax to return to ballots this November.

During Tuesday’s meeting at the Marion County-McPherson Governmental Complex (601 SE 25th Ave), Marion County Commissioners unanimously approved the proposed referendum to extend the tax after agreeing to more clearly define the tax’s uses.

Voters across Marion County will have a chance to approve or reject the ordinance this November. If approved, the ordinance will extend the “levy of a one cent (one percent) countywide infrastructure sales surtax for a period of four years.”

Before approving the referendum, commissioners agreed to amend verbiage they believed was unclear: Although the ordinance defined “Public Safety” as including “law enforcement, fire, animal control, and emergency medical services,” it did not include a definition for “Transportation Infrastructure.”

“I can tell you that I think that some of the city officials may have a broader interpretation of ‘transportation infrastructure’ than some people,” said Marion County Attorney Matthew Minter.

Minter explained to commissioners that they could expressly include or exclude specific uses before approval of the referendum. After a brief discussion and recess, County Administrator Mounir Bouyounes amended the referendum to define “transportation infrastructure” as “road projects and associated professional services, including new roads, road rehabilitations, and intersection improvements.”

Earlier in the meeting, multiple members from the public took to the podium to offer feedback, including Keith Poole of KAP Design Group, who suggested that water and sewer provisions be included.

“One area that I think got left out of this big picture was our water and sewer utilities. That is infrastructure. We brought it up numerous times, we think that it should be included in this. It would help in many ways. I would encourage you to include water utilities and water sewer in that discussion,” said Poole.

Commission Chair Kathy Bryant indicated that after the needs of public safety and transportation infrastructure were considered, the remaining impact would be small.

“I appreciate your comments, Mr. Poole, but from every public hearing that we’ve ever had regarding water and sewer, we wouldn’t have enough money to really do anything,” said Bryant.

Voters will have the chance to approve the oridnance on Tuesday, Nov. 3. The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 5. Early voting begins Oct. 19 and will last through Oct. 31. Register to vote in Marion County here.

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