The Edmond Sun

March 19, 2013

Candidate disagrees with sales tax spending plan

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Decisions made by the City Council to pay for the $25.5 million Public Safety Center spurred mayoral candidate Richard Prawdzienski to run for office, he said at the Edmond Republican Women’s Club this week.

He will be on the April 2 citywide ballot with incumbent Mayor Charles Lamb. Also on the ballot will be a Ward 4 City Council race between incumbent Nick Massey and Shilpa Abbitt.

The city’s sales tax rate jumped to 3.75 percent in 2012, due to the 2011 half-cent sales tax ballot approval to help fund the Public Safety Center. Voters also gave the city permission to loan itself money out of the $7.2 million Hospital Trust Fund with an improved return of investment on that trust fund.

A five-year sunset provision was set on the ballot for the additional half-cent of sales tax, said Steve Murdock, city attorney. The half-cent sales tax will end March 1, 2017, according to the city.

The 70,000-square-foot Edmond Public Safety Center will be built on a 1-acre site at 100 E. First St. The site of the City of Edmond Administration Building will be demolished in coming weeks.

Laboratory, vehicles, evidence-based storage and other related functions will be at a $3.5 million auxiliary building to be constructed northwest of 33rd Street and Broadway.

“We agreed to pay an extra half penny to build a facility,” Prawdzienski said. “And what the City Council did … they basically said if we have enough money, we pay off the bill, we’ll take that money and use it for capital improvement funds. I want to stop taking money to build capital improvements without a vote of the people.”

Voters in Edmond agreed to a 3/4-cent capital project sales tax in 1996. In 2000 voters affirmed to continue the tax for infrastructure improvements when it was set to expire in 2001.

Prawdzienski said the Capital Improvements and Financing Task Force is deciding how money will be spent without the public’s voice being heard.

The Capital Projects and Financing Task Force is a group of city residents selected by the City Council. They recommend infrastructure priorities to the council, which makes the final decision on expenditures. These projects are funded by the 2000 city sales tax.

“When we do the Public Safety Center in a built environment, we are going to do damage to associated infrastructure around it — streets, parking lots and some other facilities that will be impacted,” Lamb said. “The funds we are collecting for the Public Safety Center project will be used to make those associated repairs and upgrades to fit that project in a built environment.”

Elected candidates take office on the first Monday in May. Mayors are elected for two years. Council members serve four-year terms.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 2. | 341-2121