The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 30, 2014

Don’t be fooled on April 1st

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript

I am not in favor of this Public Safety Sales Tax that is asking voters to approve on April 1st. Don’t be fooled. The language is not tight enough to give voters confidence that the millions raised from this permanent tax will go strictly for public safety. What’s the rush?

We have 17 months until the present tax expires in 2015, plenty of time to vote NO and craft a version directed to public safety only. We all want a strong public safety presence in Norman, but this plan would let the city spend money on ordinary projects that the voters didn’t approve.

The first ten-year period will generate about $120 million and show a surplus of at least $20 million. This plan cries out for more scrutiny and tighter language.

The phrase “for such other lawful purposes of the city”(in the ballot)causes problems by clearing the way for a future council to eventually spend public safety tax money on anything they approve.

From the minutes of a Public Safety Oversight Committee, the city attorney was asked about excess funds, and he replied: “if you looked at the ordinance as a whole and were comfortable with there being excess, then public safety sales tax money could be used for other uses as outlined in the ordinance.”

One councilperson offered a resolution to guard the money for public safety only, but a future council can nullify it and spend the money on whatever it desires.

This permanent tax needs to be for public safety only, not a fund for “other lawful purposes.”

Supporting public safety is perhaps our most serious responsibility as citizens.

We are a nation of laws, and public safety is our shield.

Roger Gallagher

Norman

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