The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 18, 2013

To increase millage or not to increase millage?

NORMAN — A small, permanent tax increase that the Moore Norman Technology Center will request of Moore and Norman voters in February could translate into a big help for the center’s budget.

On Feb. 12, voters in the Moore and Norman school districts will have two questions regarding the building fund levy on the ballot: Whether to add an additional mill to the current 4-mill levy and whether this addition will be permanent.

If passed, the increased cost to each taxpayer could range from $0.67 to $1.67 a month, proportionate to the assessed value of each individual’s home.

Though the increase to each taxpayer would be slight, the increase to MNTC’s budget would be significant and far-reaching.

“We predict the increase to our budget to be around $1.7 million,” Superintendent Jane Bowen said. “We intend to use the additional funds for facility remodeling, construction, purchasing equipment and possibly teacher salaries.”

With certain industry professionals in high demand and waiting lists for MNTC classes like welding topping 90, Bowen said the school is straining to keep up.

“We’ve done surveys of constituents in Cleveland County, and what we’ve found is that there’s going to be a much higher demand for health care professionals for the aging population, the energy industry needs more technicians, and returning veterans will need help as well,” said Glen Cosper, an MNTC Board of Education member. “We’ve made do, but state appropriations aren’t keeping up with increased operations costs.”

In addition to operation costs, funding from the increased levy also would help with expansion projects like the new Information Technology Center, a $17 million, 61,000-square-foot facility on the Norman campus completed last year.

According to impact research conducted by Mark Snead of Oklahoma State University, the students who benefit from these facilities and graduate from MNTC are projected to increase Oklahoma’s economy by more than $104 million.

“Career tech centers came about so that schools could fund high-cost programs, and some of our equipment is very expensive. That’s why both Moore and Norman feed our center’s budget,” Bowen said.

Voting will take place Tuesday, Feb. 12. For more information, call the Cleveland County Election Board at 366-0210.

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