Tahlequah Daily Press

Letters to editor

January 2, 2013

Tired of NSU ‘freebies’

TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

It’s that time of the year again. The mayor and city council have decided that we need more taxes for a longer period of time.

They have decided on a nice figure of $21 million for only 15 years. The project is named Tahlequah Capital Improvements 2012. As I write this, I am torn, since no one in town has harped more than I have in the last 20 years on the poor roads and infrastructure in this town, but please take a closer look at this project.

The first thing that jumps out at me is the timing of the election, itself. Let’s have it on the second Tuesday in January when only the supporters of the project will even know there is an election. Why not have it during the spring primaries when everyone will be interested? Tulsa put its project on the November election and it failed, but at least everyone had a chance to vote for it.

It seems strange to me that all of a sudden, roads and infrastructure are the most important thing to the mayor and council. In the past 10 years or so we have had several other sales tax votes and they have been improving NSU’s football field, and for building (trying to build I should say) a giant sports complex west of town. Roads were never important parts of these “priority” projects. Why are they now?

OK, let’s take a quick look at where the $21 million is going to go. Only half, or $10 million, will actually be going to roads. After we pay a consultant approximately $1 million to oversee the tax, there will be $5 million to build a new community building for NSU (that they will run, and not us) and $4.6 million to finish the “never-ending” sports complex. There are a few small items for emergency management and trails, but they are not significant amounts. They are there to make the project look better.

It seems like we never learn on the NSU freebies. The last time we built them something with tax dollars, we were not allowed to use it, and then had to pay a “fee.” It’s just insulting to me every time I think about it. I have noticed all of the projects around campus and it seems they have plenty of money. Why don’t they build the community center for the city? At least then they can tell us that we can use it, and we will not have an argument.

The sports complex has cost the city almost $2 million so far, and with this extra $4.6 million slated for it on this proposal, it will be a $6-7 million project. Do we really need that much money tied up in this?

That money would improve almost all of the streets and intersections in town that we all use, and keep water off of the streets during heavy rains. My safety and my family’s safety is more important to me than a soccer field.

We need infrastructure and green space improvements in Tahlequah, there is no doubt. What we don’t need are these “special” pet projects paid for with your tax dollars hanging over our heads for the next 15 years.

Have the city come back with a proposal that includes infrastructure but leaves off the freebies, and I will vote for it in a second.

In the meantime, I will reluctantly vote no on Jan. 8, 2013, because I just can’t approve mortgaging the city’s future on projects that do not benefit all of us.

Zack Smith

Tahlequah

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