The Norman Transcript


November 25, 2013

Norman City Council members consider renewing half-cent Public Safety Sales Tax



Rosenthal said she believed they would see a lot of push back from that.

“We promised five years ago to return the issue to the voters,” she said.

That’s exactly what she wants to do, and she said she believes if the city tells voters what their specific needs are, voters will “step up to the plate.”

A bond package: Council members also briefly discussed a possible bond package for future capital needs.

A long-term sales tax would support those capital needs, but a temporary sales tax may not. Francisco said a seven-year sales tax would not fulfill the needs of a 20-year project.

Council member Greg Heiple questioned Francisco about considering a bond package because current interest rates are incredibly low.

Francisco agreed that from a math standpoint, now would be a good time to pursue a bond.

Council member Tom Kovach also made the point that capital needs presented Monday totaled $35 million, and a bond could make a big dent in that.

Rosenthal said they might want to defer a bond package when there is more time to discuss the issue.

Future public safety needs: If a temporary or permanent sales tax was approved by voters, city council members discussed what some of that money would go toward. The biggest concern was keeping the 71 officers and firefighters on the payroll, as well as adding more boots on the ground to combat understaffing in the future.

“With the city and university growing, there will always be a need for additional officers,” Police Chief Keith Humphrey said.

The police department and oversight committee have been discussing placing some of those additional officers at the schools.

There also has been discussion at partnering with Norman Public Schools, meaning part of the cost could be shared for putting officers into the schools again.

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