Modern, built-for-purpose public safety facilities are critical to better serve our current and future citizens and businesses in an emergency. Our police and fire departments are at capacity, and their current buildings cannot accommodate additional personnel, modern technology, or even current equipment – limiting their ability to meet the needs of our community in the future.
This project has been under discussion and in pre-planning stages for several years, because as need has become increasingly evident. Administration changes and COVID uncertainty held it up for several years, but it simply cannot wait any longer.
Any repairs or renovation projects we undertake to improve our current public safety buildings are a temporary band-aid to real, growing health and safety concerns, and will not be enough to bring some areas of our existing facilities up to code.
Skiatook’s general fund budget is mostly composed of local sales tax and utility fees, and that fund must support the existing operating expenses of the City, including public works and public safety operations. There is no existing source of revenue that can be dedicated solely to building new police and fire stations.
The benefit of One Safe Skiatook is that everyone shopping in Skiatook – and therefore relying on our public safety - funds these necessary improvements, not just property owners. Other revenue sources would place the burden on those who own homes and businesses in Skiatook only.
No. Skiatook actually has one of the lowest city sales tax rates in the metro at 3.5%. If One Safe Skiatook were approved by voters, our tax rates overall would still be right in line with other communities across the metro.
Compare with other communities
If approved, One Safe Skiatook is projected to bring in $1.4 million annually.
If approved by voters, the One Safe Skiatook sales tax revenue funded can only be used for public safety, including building and maintaining new, modern police and fire stations, buying equipment and the ongoing operation of the police and fire services, and will be earmarked accordingly. Revenue collected cannot be used for non-public safety purposes.
One Safe Skiatook does not have an end date. It is designed to be an ongoing funding source for public safety efforts.
If One Safe Skiatook is not approved by voters, nothing will happen in the immediate future. Our police and fire departments will continue to operate in their current facilities and do their best for our community, despite the operational challenges of the current situation.
However, retrofitting the existing buildings is not a permanent solution and is not possible in some areas of the existing facilities. The time will come when building new facilities is the City’s only choice remaining, and the City will have to create a revenue source for these projects, possibly under less than ideal circumstances.
To accelerate construction of the public safety facilities, the City may – at the Council’s direction – choose to issue debt to accomplish these projects. That debt would then be backed by the revenues generated from the sales tax.
One Safe Skiatook cannot be used to back debt for purposes other than those on the ballot (i.e., public safety). Without that language on the ballot, the city could not use those funds to incur debt to accomplish the projects without waiting many, many years for revenue to accrue.
There isn’t enough money in this surplus fund to build a new police and new fire station and maintain 20% of the annual budget required in the event of an emergency.
While it’s true that a portion of the city’s existing tax revenue is dedicated to public safety expenditures, it is much broader than simply police or fire. Other public safety expenditures include dispatch, emergency management, EMS, animal control, traffic light control systems, cameras, message board signs, storm sirens, notification systems, and other related types of equipment.
If approved, One Safe Skiatook will fund two new police and fire stations in Skiatook and it is likely the City will take on debt to build these new facilities. Should the City take on debt, there must be some way to pay it back; that is why the ordinance currently states the tax cannot be repealed while debt is attached to it.
In response to questions asked from the public, Skiatook City Council approved a resolution that states their intention to consider removing that section of the ordinance if the initiative is passed.
See the full resolution here.
No, for most families in most situations, it won't be.
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