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Local News

May 12, 2013

Good streets essential for Duncan’s future

DUNCAN — After months of plans and pitches from city officials, Duncan residents will decide on their own Tuesday whether a $9 million street improvement project funded by property taxes moves forward.

Mayor Gene Brown and the other four members of the Duncan City Council — all elected officials — are firmly behind the proposal. The Duncan Chamber of Commerce supports it as well, saying it’s good for the community and good for business.

There hasn’t been any vocal, well-organized opposition to the plan — at least none that has gone out of its way for publicity.

That doesn’t mean the proposal is a slam dunk.

City leaders backed major funding proposals for street improvements in 2007, saying some of the same things they are saying now — that many of the city’s streets are in dire need of repair and it will only get worse and more expensive without a significant fix now.

Both 2007 proposals — one to be funded with additional property taxes and the other to paid for with increased sales taxes — were soundly rejected.

Brown is hoping for a different outcome this time.

“The problem is not going to go away,” he said. “The sooner we do it the better off we are going to be as far as costs and creating good streets in our community.”

Chamber President Chris Deal said the organization’s board listened to a city presentation of the plan last fall and supports it. That might not have been the case had the plan called for an increase in sales taxes, which many retailers believe would hurt their businesses and the local economy.

Good streets, Deal said, are essential to keep products and money flowing in Duncan.

“We recognize this as a community need and when they (city officials) proposed it, the board came together and said we need to support it,” Deal said.

Duncan Public Works Director Scott Vaughn, who gave presentations about the plan to several organizations and civic clubs, said nobody who attended said they opposed a street improvement project.

One person, he said, questioned whether it should be funded with increases in property taxes.

Peggy Davenport, an insurance agent in Duncan who opposed two bond issues put forward by Duncan Public Schools in 2010 and 2011, shares that concern.

Nobody is arguing that the streets don’t need fixing, she said. But she says that should be a shared responsibility funded by sales taxes that almost everyone pays, not taxes aimed only at those who own houses or other property.

Davenport said several people have expressed such sentiments to her, but she was not aware of any organized effort against the proposal.

“There is just some general concern,” she said.

Grant Perkins, president of the Duncan Association of Realtors, said that group has taken no stand on the issue, but since it is a community issue, it is encouraging people to vote.

Perkins said good streets might have a marketing affect on overall neighborhood appeal, but it was hard to say whether they directly impact the value of a house. Perkins said he’s heard people for and against the proposal.

Most who are for it want better streets, he said, and most of those against it oppose the higher taxes.

Be sure to read the final story online Monday to see what City council members have to say aobut the election.

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