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March 29, 2014

City votes on Public Safety Sales Tax

NORMAN — Early voting concluded with 135 voters Friday and 86 on Thursday, according to election board officials. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday for the Norman Municipal Election, which includes a proposition to renew the Public Safety Sales Tax.

Originally approved as a temporary sales tax in 2008, the PSST supports 71 police and fire positions. If renewed, the tax will continue to support those positions, as well as 19 additional positions. The renewed tax also would pay for fire trucks and apparatus and the relocation of Fire Station No. 5.

“At the current Fire Station No. 5 the facility is inadequate for housing the needed firefighters and equipment,” Fire Chief James Fullingim said. “The station currently is one mile inside the city limits of Norman. We believe the community will be better served to make the fire station more centrally located for responding in rural east Norman.”

The temporary tax already funded two energy efficient fire stations. Fifteen firefighters now call Fire Station No. 9 on Alameda Street east of 24th Avenue Southeast their part-time home. The $3.7 million building has many LEED certified components. Solar tubes provide free-energy lighting in the offices, and the facility uses geothermal heat and air.

“We did not have funding for these two fire stations,” said Mayor Cindy Rosenthal of No. 8 and No. 9. “If we didn’t have this Public Safety Sales tax we would have had to bring a bond before voters. It would not have been

possible to build these in this time frame.”

The east side of Norman along Alameda Street and down to Highway 9 has experienced strong growth, Rosenthal said. Need determines the placement of fire stations.

The PSST renewal would also fund an emergency communications system and a facility for emergency operations and dispatch.

“This will be a hardened facility,” Fullingim said. “If a tornado hits, it won’t hurt it.”

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