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January 28, 2014

Norman City Council considers mingling PSST with general fund

NORMAN — The Norman City Council redefined how the Public Safety Sales Tax renewal would work at its Monday study session. The PSST, in its current form, wouldn’t really exist under the new proposal, which would put the money into the general fund and track it as a line item.

The council said mingling the PSST fund with the general would not allow for other uses of the money, and the city still would have to follow the same guidelines. The PSST Oversight Committee would continue to monitor and have input on how the special sales tax is spent.

However, how the extra jobs currently funded by the PSST will be protected long term is unclear in the new proposal.

Public input and recommendations from the PSST oversight committee pointed to disagreement between an April or August vote and whether the tax should be temporary or permanent.

City leaders said the changes represent an attempt to respond to those concerns.

Monday, city attorney Jeff Bryant presented two new proposals with new elements based on requests from council members.

Both versions still incorporate funding for the 71 jobs already funded under the PSST.

The new proposals will add 13 school resource officers in partnership with the schools, which would cost share the salaries, as well as adding four communications officers and two emergency vehicle mechanics.

The identified capital projects also remain in the new proposals, but the administration would differ. 

Version 1 of the new proposals would  make the tax permanent. In Version 1,  the half-percent tax continues until the capital projects are complete.

After those obligations have been met, the funds would be split. The proposal would delegate three-eighths percent to fund salaries and one-eighth percent to fund capital projects — to be tracked separately in the general fund and in the capital fund.

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