11/9/2013 9:11:00 PM Voters to decide city propositions Tuesday
By Van Mitchell, Journal Staff Writer
Stillwater voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 12 to decide three city propositions that if approved would fund $27.5 million in municipal bond projects and create a permanent one-cent sales tax for transportation projects.
And with the special election comes a new state law that changed Oklahoma's in-person absentee voting process. State legislators passed Senate Bill 869 which reduced the number of days in-person absentee voting may be conducted.
Early voting will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8 and Friday, Nov. 9 at the Payne County Administration Building, 315 W. Sixth Avenue. Legislators discontinued early voting on the Monday before an election day. People casting ballots must show photo identification.
Stillwater Mayor John Bartley said he and other city officials have been working hard to get the word out on the bond issues.
"I think the public that I have heard from it has been an overall positive response," Bartley said. "People understand that to make progress to go forward there is a cost to progress. The people that are in favor of these propositions see the value in what this can be to our community. The conversation has been across the board. Everyone's reason against it is valid as long as they have the right facts. We have been working very hard to get the facts of the situation out there."
Proposition 1 is a $20 million bond proposal which would allow the City to construct and equip a baseball/ softball/soccer complex to include approximately 16 to 18 baseball and softball fields and eight soccer fields (with space for eight more) and attendant facilities. The facility, located in the vicinity of Sangre and Richmond Roads, would be capable of hosting state and regional competitions.
The improvements to be undertaken as part of this bond would include but are not limited to lighting, parking areas, concessions and restrooms.
Bartley said the improvements to be undertaken as part of this bond would also allow the City to construct and equip projects at the southwest corner of Boomer Lake Park. Projects would include but are not limited to a multipurpose outdoor amphitheater with seating for approximately 2,500 people, a parking area, and a lake front boardwalk that could accommodate specialty shops and water recreation opportunities. The lake front development site is at the southwest corner of Boomer Lake Park.
If approved, Proposition 1 would create an average annual assessment on property tax in Stillwater of 5.21 mills. For homeowners with a $100.000 home, this averages to about $54 a year. The bond would be for 20 years.
Proposition 2 is a $7.5 million proposition that would allow the City to construct and equip a new fire station in the vicinity of Western Road and Hall of Fame Avenue. The new station would replace the 1938 Station No. 2 currently located at the corner of University Avenue and Knoblock Street.
This proposition includes the purchase of a fire engine for the new fire station. The proposition would allow the City to expand and upgrade the police department patrol unit fleet to approximately 50 completely outfitted patrol vehicles, which allows one patrol unit per patrol officer. It would also allow the City to design and upgrade the citywide emergency services and voice and data communication system.
If approved, Proposition 2 would create an average annual assessment of 3.48 mills. This will average to about $36 per year for homeowners with a $100,000 house for 10 years.
Proposition 3 is authorization that the current one-half percent sales tax dedicated to specific transportation projects will be repealed and replaced with a new, perpetual one percent sales tax dedicated to transportation and mobility issues. It would also give authorization that the current one-half percent sales tax dedicated to specific transportation projects will be repealed and replaced with a new, perpetual one-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation and mobility issues.
"A dedicated reliable annual budget is needed to operate and maintain our transportation infrastructure," Bartley said. "Approximately $4 million is needed solely for maintenance of asphalt and concrete pavements annually. Additionally, the 2007 Stillwater Transportation Enhancement Plan provides a road map of projects needed to meet traffic demand through the year 2030 and identifies more than $100 million in capital needs over the next 17 years for roadway projects to meet current and future traffic demands. This proposition will allow Stillwater to improve the quality of our roads and transportation system as well as allow us to meet the quantity needs as our community grows."
Voters will have one final chance to discuss the bond issues when the League of Women Voters hosts a bond forum on Wednesday, Nov. 6 from 6-7 p.m. at Stillwater City Hall.
Bartley said he believes voters will weigh the pros and cons of the bond issues and is hopeful it will be step forward for Stillwater.
"The main reason to vote yes for these propositions is when these propositions taken together provide a wonderful and large step forward for Stillwater," Bartley said.