The Norman Transcript

Crime/Courts

October 11, 2013

Committee raises questions about PSST

NORMAN — The Citizens Public Safety Oversight Committee raised questions Thursday about where the city council is with renewing the Public Safety Sales Tax bond.

The committee is eager to get feedback from council members about whether the half-cent tax will become permanent, remain temporary or even be renewed as a half-cent tax.

“There’s still needs in this community for public safety,” committee chairman Eddie Sims said. “There’s still a lot of assets that we either don’t have that other communities our size do have or that needs to be replaced. So I think there’s a capital part of this going forward that this will probably be the only opportunity that we have to get some of this stuff.”

Sims said he would like to get a list of needs from the police and fire departments that would cover the next five years so they can plan for future capital needs.

“We can’t go back; this community cannot go back. We still need to move forward,” Sims said.

Committee member George Henderson said it’s important to keep surrounding communities in mind, as well.

“We need to put what we’re doing in relationship to our metropolitan area. We want to be competitive. We want to be one of the best communities, but that’s going to cost,” Henderson said.

The committee will request the presence of the mayor and a council member during a future meeting to discuss the issue more.

Norman police and fire departments also reported several updates to the committee, some of which involved using safety sales tax dollars for equipment needs.

Fire Chief Jim Fullingim said the fire department is currently in a position where it will need to replace a major apparatus every year.

In the next year or two, the department hopes to replace an aerial ladder unit, which could cost a little more than $1 million, he said. The current aerial ladder unit has a 1969 model ladder and the truck is a ’97 model.

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