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10/9/2013 8:37:00 PM
County gets update on ballot initiatives
By Van Mitchell

The Payne County Commissioners Monday were updated by Stillwater Mayor John Bartley on the three ballot initiatives for the Nov. 12 city election.

"On the ballot are going to be three initiatives but there is only going to be one question," Bartley said. "And that is where do we want Stillwater to go and what do we want Stillwater to be. That is what this is all about."

Bartley said Proposition 1 is a $20 million parks and recreation package that asks to build a youth sports complex with both soccer and baseball fi elds and would be located at Range Road and Sangre Road on city property west of the airport.

"The second part of this proposition would be building an amphitheater and a boardwalk that would contain (sites for) restaurants and specialty shops at the southwest corner of Boomer Lake," Bartley said.

Bartley said Proposition 1 and 2 would be funded through General Obligation bonds and be repaid through property taxes. He said Proposition 2 is a $7.5 million public safety and equipment initiative which includes updating the city's police fleet, replacing Fire Station No. 2 and adding emergency service voice and data communication systems.

Bartley said Proposition 3 would give authorization that the current one-half percent sales tax dedicated to specific transportation projects be repealed and replaced with a new, perpetual one-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation and mobility issues.

Stillwater City Manager Dan Galloway told Commissioners that based on a $150,000 home the average property tax paid in Tulsa County is $2,100 a year and Oklahoma County's average is about $2,000. He said the statewide property tax average is $1,770 a year compared to an average of $1,634 in Payne County.

"We are $136 dollars below the state average on property taxes," Galloway said. "If both of these issues (Propositions 1 and 2) were to pass we are still going to be $36 below the state average." Bartley said he believes the bond initiatives are a good balance of what is needed to move Stillwater forward.

"This package that we put together and put out for the voters was the result of both the public and private sector coming together for the voters of Stillwater to decide what direction they want their city to go," Bartley said. "I believe it is a good balance."

In other matters, the Commissioners approved a contract with Allied Maintenance, Inc. for janitorial services at the County Administration Building for $950.00 per month and gave approval for a $5,652.05 economic development grant for the purchase of a new air conditioning unit for the Ingalls Community Center.

Commissioners also approved a bridge inspection report from the engineering firm of Mehlburger-Brawley which recently finished inspections of 134 county bridges in District 3. Commissioners were told that an inspection of the bridges in District 1 should be completed by mid-November.

Under new business, Commission Chairman Chris Reding asked county attorney Lowell Barto whether the Payne County Clerk's office had the authority to conduct audits for county-issued cell phones. Craig's office previously conducted an audit of the Payne County Commissioner's office and had questioned whether or not a series of phone calls on Reding's county-issued cell phone involving his family were business or personal related.

Payne County District Attorney Tom Lee recently sent a letter out to county officials stating that all county-issued cell phones are to be used for business only. Barto responded saying he saw nothing in the county statutes that gives the Payne County Clerk's authority to conduct audits. He recommended that any audit requests be turned over to the state auditor and inspector's office for consideration.

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