Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Forward Momentum: Group Supporting Norman's Tax Plan Sees No Organized Opposition

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Forward Momentum: Group Supporting Norman's Tax Plan Sees No Organized Opposition

Article excerpt

NORMAN - If Norman residents fail to pass the one-half-cent sales tax increase for quality-of-life improvement projects known as Norman Forward on Tuesday, the changes will likely never come, Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.

"There's just not that much room (in the budget) to do a new library, a senior citizen center, an aquatic center, or an indoor court facility," she said. "We wouldn't even have enough to do the Westwood (Park) swimming pool, which is need of desperate replacement."

She said the city could chip away at the needs in the neighborhood parks, but it could not be feasible to tackle a single larger project each year.

Residents will vote Tuesday on a 15-year, one-half-cent sales tax increase, which would be used to fund $209 million in revenue bonds. The bond proceeds would fund citywide improvements. Those projects include renovating the downtown library into a new senior center, completing the Legacy Trail, building two new libraries, upgrading 51 neighborhood parks, building an indoor swimming pool and razing Westwood to build a brand-new facility. The tax revenue will also be used to renovate Griffin Park into a soccer-exclusive park, moving the baseball and softball fields to Reeves Park.

Rosenthal said several of the projects in the Norman Forward initiative were already planned in the city's library master plan and the parks master plan.

"Some of these facilities are just really old," she said. "Our swimming pool is 50 years old. It's being held together by bailing wire and paper clips. Our court games are played in a World War II hangar. Our senior citizens are in a very old facility not suitable for seniors."

University of Oklahoma economics professor Cynthia Rogers said she has concerns about the sales tax initiative itself, as increased sales taxes increase the burden on people with fixed budgets. For example, 50 cents per $100 may not seem like a lot, but on a $10,000 salary, $50 can make a difference. …

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