The Norman Transcript


January 12, 2014

Let’s settle the debate (part of it)

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

Having had more time to sit down and reflect upon the Public Safety Sales Tax (PSST I), with its past accomplishments and its much debated future machination, I, on behalf of the Norman firefighters, would like to once again thank the citizens of Norman, including the mayor and the council, for their commitment to and ongoing support of public safety in general, and the fire department in particular.

We feel, and hope that the citizens agree, that the original tax — with its projects and promises — was a success and has substantially improved overall public safety within the city.

And now, five and half years later, you are going to be asked — sooner or later — to put your stamp of approval on the original project and its efforts.

Our main concern is what that report card (i.e. ballot initiative-PSST II) will look like.

Specifically, will you, the voter, be asked to approve of the old tax by voting for its new manifestation (PSST II) — with new projects, new personnel and new money?

Will you be forced to think not just of the needs of the community but of the 71 men and women (and their families) whose employment hangs in the balance.

None (zero) of the personnel hired under the old tax were absorbed into the city’s General Fund, the fund that pays the salaries and benefits of all other city employees. They are “permanent employees” paid for by a temporary tax?

Or will you be able to vote for a continued level of service independent of any “new” Public Safety needs/wants- i.e., moving the 71 personnel from temporary-permanent to permanent-permanent by permanently dedicating a portion (half cent) of the new tax to the General Fund for staffing purposes, thereby wiping the slate clean and ensuring that any future Public Safety Tax stand on its own merit and not on the vulnerable backs of employees and their families?

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