The Payne County Board of Commissioners has approved two resolutions scheduling county elections in 2020.

The first dealt with extending and repurposing a one-fourth cent sales tax that was originally approved in 2005 to finance construction and operation of the Payne County jail. The tax has a sunset date of March 31, 2021.

The Payne County Sales Tax Oversight Advisory Committee has recommended to the commissioners that the sales tax be extended with the proceeds used to build and repair roads and bridges in Payne County. The commissioners approved that recommendation and scheduled a special election on Feb. 11 for voters to consider extending the sales tax.

Advisory committee chairman Nathan Anderson said the committee was concerned with the deterioration of county roads and bridges and the lack of county funding for those projects. Anderson emphasized that taxes would not go up if voters approve the sales tax extension.

The commissioners also approved a resolution and order scheduling a countywide election to decide whether alcoholic beverages can be sold for on-premises consumption on Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Due to a change in Oklahoma law, Payne County restaurants are not permitted to sell high-point beer or mixed drinks on those holidays but customers can walk into liquor stores and buy alcohol on those same days. Bars and restaurants previously served low-point beer on those days but since liquor laws have changed, low-point beer is no longer available.

County attorney Lowell Barto told the commissioners that the alcohol beverage question could be piggybacked on the ballot with other issues, but Anderson said the sales tax advisory committee doesn’t want it on the same ballot with the sales tax extension.

The commissioners opted to schedule the alcohol sales question on March 3, the date of Oklahoma’s presidential primary.

In other business, the commissioners accepted the donation of $2,500 of gravel from Premiere Trading and Transportation for District 3. The gravel was used to improve Mehan Road south of 140th Street. The commissioners discussed the use of the old MPower building next to the Payne County Fairgrounds. Anderson is interested in using the east side of the building for OSU Extension activities. Payne County Expo Center manager Colin Campbell is interested in using the west side of the building for storage.

District 3 Commissioner Rocky Blasier said he is not interested in renovating offices on the north side of the building at this time due to a lack of funding.

Chairman Chris Reding discussed renting the building to the OSU Extension office for nominal rent with the extension department and the Expo Center paying for the utilities. Reding plans to have Barto prepare a resolution and a contract to allow the building to be rented to the extension office.

The commissioners opened six bids for the construction of a new fire station in Yale. Fire Chief Josh Robinson was present and wanted time to review and evaluate the bids. No action was taken by the commissioners.

In regular business, the commissioners approved the payment of weekly purchase orders totaling $407,823, including the transfer of $272,591 to the Payne County Facilities Authority from the one-fourth cent sales tax that voters will consider repurposing on Feb. 11.

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