The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 30, 2014

Public safety sales tax needs more time for consideration

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

In 2006 an attempt to pass a public safety sales tax failed miserably. The plan did not identify the improvements in public safety that would bring fire and police up to regional standards. It failed to identify a comprehensive plan for public safety.

After opposing the language, a citizens group agreed that upgrades in both fire and police were needed.

They agreed to seek a professional study to draft a staffing and equipping plan that would bring these departments up to regional standards. In 2008 the new plan was presented to the voters to be funded with a ? cent sales tax. The plan was overwhelmingly adopted by the voters.

The plan has been a success. Both departments are at regional staffing levels. In addition two new fire stations have been constructed and equipped with state of the art fire apparatuses.

The police have adopted a philosophy of community policing and is making progress.

The citizens can take great pride in these improvements. The City now projects a $10 million surplus at the end of the tax in 2015. Mission accomplished.

The issue now before you, that you are being asked to approve, is being rushed for reasons that are inexplicable since the tax doesn’t expire until 2015 with a surplus projected. There are some essential improvements that are critical to the public’s safety.

These priority improvements include an Emergency Operations Center, School Resource Officers, additional fire and police equipment. This ballot language is much like the original 2006 tax proposal rejected by the voters.

This new permanent tax will provide millions to the Council and future Councils and amounts to a blank check for any frivolous projects on which they choose to spend.

The request for these additional millions fails to identify any priority needs for these funds beyond public safety, which leaves open-ended millions in discretionary spending.

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