The Norman Transcript

Government

January 7, 2014

Residents concerned about details of 10-year renewal of half-cent Public Safety Sales Tax

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Hart also questioned why the tax would be renewed as a 10-year tax versus another seven-year tax.

Rosenthal said the capital needs could not be funded in a seven-year term, so by extending it to 10 years, there would be more time to take care of those needs.

Norman Chamber of Commerce President John Woods said they have had success with the current seven-year sales tax. However, he has several concerns with the 10-year renewal tax.

First, the current tax doesn’t expire until the end of next year, and while he said he doesn’t advocate waiting until the eleventh hour to try to figure something out, there needs to be more time allowed for more public discussion and for more questions to be asked.

Woods said there were six public meetings to decide whether an apartment complex should be allowed on Campus Xorner, but this is the only public meeting the city council has scheduled to discuss a tax that will have lasted a total of 17 years, if the renewal passes.

Furthermore, none of the 71 positions added from the temporary tax have been absorbed.

“We need to shift some of those (positions) off of temporary taxes so police and fire do not have this concern,” Woods said. “We have yet to absorb one position, and I think we should begin to look at that.”

There was also some discussion of making a quarter-cent permanent tax.

However, City Financial Director Anthony Francisco said a quarter cent tax would not be enough. Francisco said it would have to be a 3/8 percent rate to maintain just the 71 added employees salaries for the next seven years, and after seven years, even that would not be enough.

Woods suggested moving the vote to the fall to allow for better education, more public input and more time for vetting and exploring every possible avenue before it goes to voters.

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