The Norman Transcript

September 23, 2012

Vote should have been in Nov.

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

I tabulated the vote from the recent bond election. This bond election raised real property taxes on all Norman residents, effective in 2013. The bonds will be issued to cover certain road improvements in Norman.

I fail to see why real estate taxes are used for this purpose. Why wouldn’t motor vehicle or sales taxes be more appropriate for these purposes?

The vote was 5,764 for the proposal and 3,630 against, for a total of 9,394 voters. This bond election was held during a run-off election instead of the general election, where voter turnout would have been greater.

I went to the Cleveland County Election Board website and determined that Cleveland County had 144,412 registered voters, of which 78,791 were registered in the same precincts as the yes/no votes were counted in the bond election.

In other words, 9,394 voters decided the tax fate of 78,791 registered voters (11.9 percent of the voting population). Additionally, 5,764 “yes” voters decided the tax fate of the 78,791 (7.3 percent) above. Is this enough “yes” votes to pass a tax on a much larger population?

I wonder how the above vote would have turned out if the proposition were stated: “The city of Norman proposes a real estate tax increase to pay the principle and interest on $47.5 million of bonds to be issued to fund certain road improvements in the city of Norman.”

Ballot questions are so obscurely worded so that many people become confused as to the purpose of the question. I maintain that the above bond election was inappropriately held during an obscure election (Aug. 28 run-off election instead of the November general election.

I also maintain that only the “yes” vote got promoted through the mailing of an interested citizen’s group study supporting the bond election. The “no” vote received no funding, no promotion and, therefore, no consideration.

Real estate taxes are primarily to fund public schools. The city of Norman had to put this to a vote because they do not receive, nor are they authorized to tax, real estate. This election sets a precedent whereby the city intends to raise additional funds through real estate taxes.

I also wonder how the results might have changed if the election were held during the November general election, when voter turnout would have been larger.

James A. Craig


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