The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 23, 2014

Permanent approval of Public Safety Sales Tax a good idea

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

On May 13, 2008, a special election was held in the City of Norman providing for the assessment of a sales tax of one half of one percent (0.5 percent) for staffing of 41 additional police personnel and 30 additional fire personnel.

The additional sales tax was also to be used for vehicles and equipment for such personnel, and acquiring, constructing and equipping two new fire stations. The proposition was approved and the tax is called the Public Safety Sales Tax.

The ordinance calling the election provided for the establishment of a Citizens Public Safety Oversight Committee to review the expenditures of such monies, submit recommendations to the City Council regarding such expenditures, and monitor the successful implementation of community oriented policing concepts. The ordinance called for the Committee to issue reports on their findings to the City Council and the public on an annual basis or as requested by Council.

The current members of the Committee are: Don Allen, Keith Allen, Linda Lockett, Malaka Elyzagi, George Henderson, James Wheatley, David Wilson, Steve Lucas and Eddie Sims.

The Committee is pleased to note that the requirements of the 2008 PSST have almost been entirely accomplished. Following is a list of accomplishments for the Committee:

— Construct two new fire stations

— Fully equip the fire stations and staff hired by the PSST

— Hire 30 additional fire personnel

— Hire 41 additional police personnel (39 positions hired, with two more to be added after July 1)

— Expand Community Oriented Policing Activities

In addition to the objectives in the first PSST Ordinance, the following public safety needs were identified and completed to improve the delivery of public safety services that the City would not have been able to do otherwise:

— Replace the Computer-Aided Dispatch, Records Management and Mobile Data Systems

— Renovate the former Smalley Armory into the Norman Investigations Center

— Replace additional fire trucks and apparatus

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