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January 14, 2014

Norman PSST ballot date under question

NORMAN — Norman City Council members are split on whether to move forward with an April ballot for the renewal of the Public Safety Sales Tax or wait until August.

The proposed ballot language is on the city council agenda for first reading tonight.

Typically, first reading items are not discussed. However, that doesn’t mean the election date — and potentially some ballot language details — won’t be changed before it hits the polls. Discussion by council members will continue at a future work study session prior to moving forward.

At Monday night’s non-voting study session, Council member Tom Kovach said the renewal of the PSST was brought up early to allow for public discussion. April was selected as the month most likely to achieve a successful outcome.

The public didn’t see it that way. At the recent public meeting over the tax renewal, some residents expressed concerns that the vote was happening too quickly. An August election date was proposed.

“If we’re going to ask someone for their opinion, we might as well listen to it,” Kovach said Monday.

He originally supported an April election but now favors waiting until August.

“I’m not arguing against the package,” Kovach said. “Time is needed to educate the public.”

Council member Greg Heiple disagrees.

“This is as clean a process as the city has ever had,” Heiple said.

Heiple doesn’t want the PSST to get mixed in with state elections and other issues going on and thinks April, when city residents also will be voting on council seat positions, is the ideal time.

“We have done our homework,” Heiple said.

Council members Chad Williams and Robert Castleberry favor waiting until August for the vote.

Other council members seem to be taking the matter under advisement, but some said after the meeting they are now considering an August rather than an April ballot.

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