Let's not sell our community short
According to Scott Martin, president of the Norman Chamber of Commerce (Transcript, May 12), Norman’s budget problem is actually an over regulation and over taxing of business problem.
Can we look at that a bit closer? Let’s start with the understanding that Mr. Martin is just doing his job as president of the Chamber. Over the decades, local Chambers have evolved from support and networking organization into powerhouse lobbying machines. The national Chamber has an annual budget nearing 250 million dollars and spends millions of that budget convincing lawmakers to eliminate unfriendly business regulation.
Let’s explore the fundamental premise presented in Mr. Martin’s column, “Our challenge lies with a regulatory and fee burden that lends itself to budget shortfalls...”
Which fees? What regulatory burdens? Mr. Martin didn’t share that information. What if Norman eliminated all regulations, and all fees went zero. Will that be enough to entice investors to open businesses and build homes in Norman?
We do have some collateral evidence that might shed some light on this question. First, look at the housing market. It appears that Norman has one of the most affordable housing markets in the region. At the time of this writing, half of the homes for sale on Zillow listed an asking prices of less than two hundred thousand dollars. Property tax on these homes are also some of the lowest in the nation.
How about evidence of an uncompetitive retail business environment in Norman? A look at existing business investments may provide a clue. Just consider the large number of the national businesses that have already made a nonemotional strait-up business decision to enter the Norman retail market. It would appear that national retailers find the Norman business environment quite manageable.
Mr. Martin suggests that Norman is just like other cities, only less competitive because the city overburdens business. But then he tells us that Norman is unique, “It’s no secret Norman is a leader in education, arts and entertainment, social services, and is uniquely positioned on I-35....”
If Norman is unique, and many of us believe it is, why should we promote our community just like any other industrial commodity? Lowest price, least regulated approach to economic development only serves to quicken the race to the bottom. This approach never works out well for the people who call the city home.
Norman may or may not have a revenue problem. Maybe, Norman just has a spending problem. Or maybe it’s a population density problem.
If it’s a spending priority problem, then Norman’s leaders will have to make the hard decisions needed to right the ship. If it’s a population problem,maybe we need a new approach to convince more people to move to our unique community in Norman, OK
Whatever path Norman should take, let’s not be distracted by any ill-designed idea that claims if we just make Norman free market enough and cheap enough, then “They” will come and then all our fiscal problems will be over.
Living in Unique Norman
Central library just not a good location for senior center
This is in response to Alice Leuck’s recent editorial regarding her opinion that the new senior center should be at the central library location. Although the central library location is “soon to be vacated” it is not the ideal place for a senior center. One reason is that it shares offices with the City of Norman.
As Norman grows so will administrative offices and it makes sense to house all of them in one location at the “soon to be vacated” central library. In addition, there is not enough parking for 200 seniors to use the facilities in addition to parking for city staff.
The vote by the City Council on May 16 to move the senior center to Reeves Park was not one supported by any lobbyist. Instead it was a recommendation made by and supported by the Senior Center Committee made up of Norman citizens who have spent many long hours on placement of a senior wellness center and what is needed to implement one. A salt water pool is a big “want” for the new center and the “soon to be vacated” central library simply is not a good accommodation for this wellness requirement.
I appreciate Alice’s concerns and hope she will be supportive of the new Senior Center when it is constructed.
Judy Smith, Member
Senior Center Committee