Stillwater Municipal Building

The City of Stillwater will ask residents to approve increased sales and visitor taxes Feb. 8. File Photo

The City of Stillwater released its latest Tax Apportionment report Thursday. The numbers reported are for funds collected on September transactions, that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in October and apportioned or assigned to the city in November.

The total apportionment for the month is $2,972,774, a 9.7% increase from the same month last year.

Sales Tax

Sales tax made up $2,799,527 of that total.

The City of Stillwater divides its share of sales tax collections among several funds, with 2% going to the General Fund, 1% going to the Stillwater Utilities Authority to help cover operating expenses and one-half cent dedicated to transportation projects that is used to fund the city’s Pavement Management Program.

On Feb. 8, voters will be asked to increase that transportation tax to a full cent for 10 years.

The sales tax rate in Stillwater is 8.813% with 4.5% going to the State of Oklahoma, 0.813% going to Payne County and 3.5% going to the City of Stillwater.

Stillwater’s sales tax collections peaked at almost $29.5 million in 2014 and almost $29 million in 2018 but have held steady around $28 million over five of the last six years. 

Use Tax

Use tax is a tax on the storage, use or consumption of taxable items or services on which sales tax hasn’t been paid, usually items like construction materials that are bought outside Oklahoma but used in the state.

It made up $173,247 of the total and was up by 14.1%.

The City of Stillwater’s use tax rate is the same as its sales tax and the money collected is divided in the same proportion between state, county and city.

Although use tax collections were down 32.6% from November 2020, combined sales and use tax collections are ahead of projections for the current fiscal year, with both up by more than 14%.

The combined year-to-date total for sales and use tax collections is just over $15 million – $1.9 million or 14.3% higher than the same point in fiscal year 2021.

Hotel Tax

Hotel or lodging tax, a 4% tax collected when people stay in hotels or short-term rentals, totaled $82,117 for the month. Collections dropped dramatically as travel stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, but have nearly recovered to pre-pandemic levels and are up 102.2% from the same month last year.

Overall year-to-date collections have reached $360,745, ahead of projections and up more than 84% from the past fiscal year.

Voters will also be asked on Feb. 8 to consider renaming that levy as a “visitor tax” and increasing the rate to 7%.

Visit Stillwater, Stillwater’s visitor marketing organization, has requested the increase and proposed that the City set aside 70% of the total visitor tax revenue for marketing and 30% for capital projects to attract visitors.

Revenue from the hotel tax is budgeted by the City of Stillwater, which has a contract with Visit Stillwater for visitor recruitment. The organization does not receive all revenues collected from the hotel tax. 

Visit Stillwater President/CEO Cristy Morrison has told the City Council capital projects funded by the increased hotel tax would serve visitors while increasing the quality of life for residents.

Renaming the tax would emphasize that it isn't actually a tax on hotels, she said. The tax is paid by visitors to the city.

Most communities in the region have either already set a higher rate than Stillwater or are discussing it, Morrison said.

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