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Opinion

January 12, 2014

More details needed before April vote

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

On Tuesday, the city council will consider taking to a vote of the people an extension of the public safety sales tax in April.

The current proposal centers on a 10-year extension of the half-cent tax. An April election gives no time for needed public input in crafting how we fund vital first responder services and puts the goal of funding those services in jeopardy.

Several issues need to be addressed before an extension of the sales tax goes to the public ballot. The city of Norman and citizens need to have detailed discussions on whether funding permanent employees with a temporary tax is sound fiscal policy and if there is a better method to ensure that our public safety needs are funded.

Cost-sharing agreements and studies regarding the capital improvements contained in the proposal need further vetting to ensure the most accurate cost estimates.

The city council and staff should review all alternatives and develop a strategy for reducing the sales tax rate either before or following this proposed extension, create a strategy for growing the overall tax base through a targeted economic development plan and allow additional time for public education and public input.  

These concerns can’t be determined prior to an April election.

In fact, I believe a fall election may be the earliest that an accurate representation of all the information can be provided to Norman citizens. This still gives us a year before the current sales tax expires and will help ensure a the best outcome for our citizens, our public safety personnel and our city budget. 

If after careful deliberation and study the current proposal is the best alternative, I will be the first in line to cast a yes vote.

John Woods

President and CEO, Norman Chamber of Commerce

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