The Norman Transcript

January 5, 2014

Public Safety Sales Tax not the way to reward city employees


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Having a great deal of respect for Mr. Metscher, does not preclude me from profoundly disagreeing with him on his recent letter concerning the Public Safety Sales Tax (PSST).

Speaking as the lone councilmember who asked for alternatives to laying of 26 non-uniformed employees in 2010, I understand the tremendous value those employees give our community. 

I also agree that they perform public safety functions that keep us safe and healthy. 

However, Ted’s attack on the uniformed unions is not only misplaced but also not relevant to this issue. They have not even joined the conversation on the renewal of the tax. I don’t think it is helpful to anyone to attempt raise one group at the expense of another.  What we need is something that helps us all, I think the PSST does just that. 

The PSST has never been about salaries and never should be. It is about staffing levels for police and fire which were demonstrably very low before the 71 positions were filled. Secondarily it was about paying for capital projects on a pay-go basis and avoiding General Obligation (G.O.) bond which raise your property taxes.

Language was carefully crafted to keep overages from unfairly boosting one group’s salary over another’s. The citizens on the PSST committee have repeatedly and emphatically instated that the proceeds of the tax only go to police and fire safety, as that was a clear promise in the original tax.

I have heard repeatedly from my constituents that they do not want the PSST to be a “slush fund” for any General Fund activity. Keep it specific, they tell me.

I tend to agree and I think the current proposal is specific and keeps those tax dollars specified for Public Safety segregated from other functions.

We should take a broader view at the value of all of our City employees and how they impact our safety but I don’t think the PSST is the way to do that.  

TOM KOVACH

Norman

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