The Duncan Banner

May 17, 2013

Vote reflects community’s attitude

Rebeka Miller
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Disappointment.

That’s the sentiment of city leaders following the defeated streets and road election Tuesday that only pulled in 1,507 registered voters in a city with 16,098 active voters.

In favor of the $9 million proposal were 618 voters. The other 889 who voted checked no.

And that no means the streets will continue to deteriorate and this week’s rainfall further compounded the problem.

City Manager Jim Frieda, one of the most vocal proponents in favor of the election said Wednesday that between extreme dry weather, then the rain, temporarily patched potholes will wash out.

“It just further deteriorates the potholes. We will survey them in dry weather to see how bad things have been washed out,” he said. “We’ll have to fill them in with asphalt.”

For Frieda though, he’s more disappointed in the apathy of Duncan citizens.

“I”m not upset with those who voted against it. I’m disappointed with those who didn’t vote or cast a ballot. Obviously, the ones who voted felt strongly about how the money should be spent.”

Frieda said he will continue to recommend to the city council members that the city avoid incurring more debt on this topic.

“What we did not anticipate, with the long time we took to get this out to the public, we did not expect such a low turnout. Less than 10 percent of voters came out. It reflects the apathy of the citizens.”

For Chris Deal, Duncan Chamber of Commerce & Industry president, he too said the vote reflected the community’s attitude about the proposed property tax.

“My personal recommendation, in having experience with the school bond issues, is hoping it will be re-evaluated,” Deal said.

Capital Improvement Plans are something Deal is very familiar with and having a viable infrastructure of solid streets, particularly arterial feeds that connect retail industry to the other parts of the city is something that everyone should be concerned with.

“Our investment into ourselves speaks volumes,” he said. Deal said that most everyone was aware of the argument of the election proposal being a property tax versus sales tax issue.

Duncan does bring in outside sales tax dollars, with people coming from Lawton, Ardmore and even Wichita Falls, Texas, to spend their money here, and had it been a sales tax issue, more people would be helping to pay for the road and street improvements, he said. But, on the flip side, it also means if the sales tax base goes up, those same people, and even local consumers, would take their pocketbooks to other communities.

Studies have found that a community with a rating of 1 in terms of economic stability are doing well, he shared. Duncan has a 1.37 rating, meaning that money is coming into the area, Deal said.

“Our retail shows a large amount of people bring their dollars into Duncan. That’s one reason our roads are important,” he said. Unfortunately though, the tax base whether it is Duncan or the state of Oklahoma as a whole, is not large enough to support the miles of roads, including those within this community, he said.

“The city will recover from this, it’s not the end of the world and our economic future doesn’t hinge on it. The people didn’t like the bond issue as proposed.”

Deal applauded the city for at least attempting to host town hall meetings to inform the public, and he, like others, wonders about revisiting the issue.

“Democracy has become a spectator sport. You would hope for better turnout,” Deal said.

Lyle Roggow, President of Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation (DAEDF), said the failed issue also doesn’t strongly affect the manufacturing sector.

“We always want the community to look good and when you take individuals through, you take them on maintained streets,” he said Thursday. “Our manufacturing industry remains strong, so it generates sales tax to import revenue into the community, which makes the community strong.”

He said having the manufacturing sector provides good paying jobs and that while people are gainfully employed with such jobs, they, in turn, spend their incomes in their community.