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Decision TIME: Stillwater City Council discusses voting dates for TIME Projects

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One of the Stillwater's TIME Projects is a no-kill animal shelter.

As talk of the TIME Projects in the City of Stillwater continue, the Stillwater City Council discussed putting the vote for these new facilities and tax increases on a ballot sometime in the near future. 

Last Monday, the Stillwater City Council discussed issues from budget amendments to building vacancies throughout the city of Stillwater. Along with these issues, the two-hour meeting further discussed the future of Stillwater’s Together Investing Municipal Excellence (TIME) Projects. 

TIME, aims to specifically impact residents in the Stillwater community. The mission of the TIME Projects is “to build a vibrant community for every resident through (their) efficient services, shared spaces and smart planning,” according to Speak Up Stillwater.

As these projects like a new fire station, animal shelter and road improvements gained traction, the city council is now discussing how and when these issues will be voted on. Along with the new construction of these buildings, the council discussed a newly introduced “visitor's tax.” 

This would change the current 4% tax on hotels, long-term rentals etc. to 7%. While the current tax has not been changed since 1984, this revised plan would put more money toward “visitor development amenities,” in effort to help draw more visitors to the Stillwater area. 

Caroline York, a sophomore at Oklahoma State, said she does not think there is a need for the increased tax. 

“Increasing a visitor’s tax for the first time in 35 years doesn’t seem like it will really help in the long term,” York said. “I am more interested to see how the new projects like the fire station are being developed.” 

Talks about when these issues will be voted on were also addressed. The council discussed two elections, Feb. 8, 2022 and April 5, 2022, as potential voting dates for these issues. 

The council reached an agreement which would put the two tax increases on the February ballot, while the bond issue for new facilities across Stillwater would be voted on in April 2022. 

Along with voting dates for the TIME Projects, members of the council gave COVID-19 updates in the Stillwater community. Stillwater city mayor, Will Joyce, discussed the potential concern for an increase in COVID-19 rates in the upcoming months. 

“It’s starting to be flu season,” Joyce said. “If you haven’t gotten vaccinated, please consider doing that. Children’s vaccines are now available in the community and we hope everyone will take advantage of that.” 

Though other issues were discussed during last Monday’s City Council meeting and the two voting dates have not been permanently set in stone, members of the council agreed these structural and tax issues in the community need to be addressed as soon as possible.