SULPHUR — Calling it "almost like life or death" for the City of Sulphur, one local civic leader is calling on Sulphur residents to vote for the ½ cent sales tax renewal on the ballot for this Saturday's election.

Sulphur businessman Dick Kennison, former Sulphur City Councilman and current chair of the political action committee Citizens for Continued Progress, told the Southwest Daily News that "the miniscule ½ cent" renewal is critical for upkeep and improvements to city's infrastructure.

"This (tax) is a lot more fair to all than property taxes, where only property owners bear the burden," said Kennison. "In this exceptionally small tax we get a lot more for our dollar.

"With the ½ cent sales tax, everyone who comes through Sulphur and buys gas, food and anything else shares this burden," he said.

Kennison noted that, while other municipalities in the state are struggling to meet their infrastructure needs, "we have improvements all over town" because of the tax.

The ½ cent sales tax is dedicated to capital projects and bond debt which include streets, sewerage disposal, waste and wastewater systems. It cannot be used for administrative or operational expenses.

The tax was initially approved by voters in 2001 with 70 percent of the vote and renewed in 2010 with 67 percent.

"The renewal of the ½ cent sales tax will ensure the continued progress of the City of Sulphur," said Sulphur Mayor Mike Danahay. "For almost 30 years, these tax proceeds have funded scores of street, water, wastewater, and drainage capital projects. We are grateful that in the past the citizens of Sulphur have recognized the value of this ½ cent sales tax and will continue to do so with their favorable support."

Danahay said the tax brings in an average of $3.2 million annually and has funded 42 percent - $32 million - of the capital projects completed over the past decade. Those projects include:

• More than $5 million in street overlays and rehab,

• More than $6 million in bridge replacements,

• More than $3 million on the Parish Road reconstruction,

• More than $3 million on the Logan St. reconstruction,

• More than $5 million on waterline upgrades and improvements,

• More than $7 million on wastewater lift station improvements,

• More than $1.5 million on water plant upgrades and improvements.

That covers 33 street and bridge projects and 48 water and wastewater projects.

The renewal is on the ballot for this Saturday, August 15.

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