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January 26, 2014

Public safety still a top concern for city council

NORMAN — Public safety will continue to top the list as the city dialogue on a proposed vote continues this week at city hall. A work session on Monday and a study session followed by a regular city council meeting on Tuesday will allow city council members time to discuss when and how to move forward with the vote to renew the Public Safety Sales Tax.

On Thursday last week, the PSST Oversight Committee met and discussed the upcoming tax renewal vote and is making several recommendations to the city council.

PSST Oversight Chair Eddie Sims said he prefers a temporary tax because the temporary tax lends itself to accountability — if the money is misspent, residents won’t vote to renew the tax.

He said he also understands the desire to make the support for jobs permanent, however, and he personally will support whatever the city council decides.

 “Do we want something to become entrenched or do we want to keep this flexible?” asked Oversight Committee member David Burns.

The committee voted to support the tax renewal as a temporary, 10 year tax, but committee support was divided. With two members absent, four voted to support the temporary tax, two wanted the tax to be permanent and one abstained. Five agreed if the tax were temporary it should be for 10 years and two voted against supporting the 10-year tax.

The majority also supports an April 1 vote, but the committee was divided in a close four to three decision on the election date. The other alternative is an August vote which some say would allow more time for discussion.

The PSST committee unanimously supports continuing the half-percent tax at the same rate and supports using some of the money for school resource officers, communication officers and select capital projects in addition to continuing to pay the salaries of 71 fire and police personnel positions created by the original tax six years ago.

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