By Conrad Dudderar
After a sluggish 2020 due to COVID-19, Canadian County use tax revenues have rebounded through the first half of 2021.
Between January and June, Canadian County has collected $841,775 in use tax income from the Oklahoma Tax Commission. That’s up 9.6% from the $768,024 disbursed to Canadian County for the same six-month period in 2020.
“It’s been running well,” Canadian County Commission Chairman Jack Stewart said.
The Canadian County Public Facilities Authority, comprised of the three county commissioners, decided several years ago to utilize part of the county’s use tax income to fund construction of a new fairgrounds’ complex.
The Canadian County Expo & Event Center, at Jensen and Alfadale roads southwest of El Reno, is now open.
The project’s first phase features about 100,000 square feet of covered space – nearly half that for an indoor arena, along with an event center, open air pavilion and offices.
CCPFA trustees are applying the county’s monthly use tax collections cover fund construction and related costs.
Use tax is a tax on goods purchased in another state for use in the taxing state, in lieu of local sales tax. Use tax applies to purchases made outside the taxing jurisdiction but used within the state.
The county officials established an internal rule that no more than 60% of use tax revenues who be used to pay the facility’s construction debt.
“We’re right at, or under, that number right now,” Chairman Stewart said.
County financial advisor Ben Oglsbee in May 2020 told CCPFA trustees monthly debt service from June 2020 to July 2021 would be $68,570. “Maximum” debt service would be $79,369.
Canadian County has seen a healthy increase overall in use tax disbursements as compared to the same period in 2020, the data shows.
Canadian County received $149,056.70 in June, $155,938.37 in May, $107,951.85 in April, $109,695.90 in March, $179,657.88 in February, and $139,474.30 in January.
That compare to these disbursements for the same months in 2020: $109,176.93 in June, $123,785.99 in May, $118,278.43 in April, $122,997.94 in March, $166,738.03 in February, and $127,047.28 in January.
The first phase construction price tag is about $15.2 million but associated costs bring to total tab to about $20 million
“It’s affordable, it’s do-able,” Chairman Stewart said. “We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t think we were safe in doing it.”
PAY FOR ITSELF?
Stewart acknowledged the “big question” is whether the new Canadian County Expo & Event Center will be self-sustaining.
“Even it can be proven it can’t pay for itself through event bookings, there will be other revenue it brings indirectly to the county,” the District 3 county commissioner noted. “There will be more visitors coming to Canadian County, who eat at our restaurants, stay at our hotels and shop at our stores.
“That’s going to be a huge increase for Canadian County.”
The Canadian County Expo & Event Center also improves quality of life for residents, Stewart added.
“This is not just for livestock; other events of all sorts will be able to be here,” he said. “For the time being, we will maintain the original fairgrounds (220 N Country Club Road) for smaller events like family reunions, receptions and even some smaller agricultural shows.
“There are a lot of ideas what we may eventually do with the old fairgrounds.”