The Norman Transcript

Government

March 28, 2013

Chamber forum airs sales tax issue

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Rosenthal said Norman has the largest tax base and has had in Cleveland County for 35 years.

“I think it’s important to look at the long term and, from there, it’s healthy,” she said.

Rosenthal said Norman is collecting sales tax more per capita than Moore, but she is happy Moore is doing well also because, as Moore Mayor Glenn Lewis said recently, we live in a regional economy.

“I think that Norman has a very bright future regarding sales tax,” Rosenthal said.

However, she expressed concerns about internet sales undercutting local business and not paying sales tax.

“There’s no quick answer, but if all of us spend a little more time shopping in Norman, it will improve,” Ward 7 Council member Linda Lockett said.

Lockett said we need to be friendly to visitors who come here to shop and that for business owners, customer service is key.

As a longtime small business owner, Lockett said she knows what it takes to succeed and she supports the city becoming more business friendly.

“I don’t think we have a long-term problem, but I do think we have to be concerned about it,” Ward 7 candidate Stephen Holman said.

He said sales tax is volatile and relying on what people buy is not a good source of revenue.

Because Oklahoma’s economy is based on sales tax, however, Holman said we need vibrant businesses that pay good salaries because people will spend money when they are economically secure.

“The greatest risk year by year is keeping the city in the black and having enough money for essential services like police and fire,” Ward 1 Council member Roger Gallagher said.

Gallagher said Norman needs additional commercial businesses in Ward 1.

Sherman said Norman needs to be more business friendly.

“We have got to find a way to entice businesses to come to Norman, and I’m not talking about giving away tax benefits or anything like that,” Sherman said.

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