DUNCAN — Bill Schneekloth
Q. City Manager Jim Frieda said recently if the half-cent sales tax extension for economic development is not approved by voters, he will immediately seek voter approval for the city to assess its own half-cent sales tax to address its water and street problems. If elected and the sales tax extension is defeated on April 1, would you favor Frieda’s plan?
A. This is not a new tax. It is a tax that has been on the books for the last 20 years with 53% of the revenue generated by this tax being paid for by people who visit our community to participate in events planned by community organizations, volunteer groups and others. These people spend their money at our hotels, restaurants and retail establishments. 1/2 of the money is coming to our city from outsiders to be used to improve the quality of life for our citizens and generate new business. I would like to see the city receive more of the revenue generated to offset our burden of expense but I am willing to compromise with DAEDF to split the revenue for the time being.
Q. Do you think the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation is doing a good job with its approach to improving the city? Would you like to see changes made in its approach? If so, what changes?
A. I first met Lyle Raggow in 2006 when I spent some time talking with him about contacting Rockwell Automation, the company I retired from in 2005, to entertain the idea of creating an industrial assembly facility in Duncan to bring in new jobs to the area. The idea was not approved by Rockwell because the Duncan area did not have the industrial electronic skills sets to met their requirements. I do not believe that the DAEDF is transparent enough for our citizens to determine if they have done a good job or not. At the recent DAEDF annual invitation only banquet their Chairman Greg Shepherd was quoted by the Duncan Banner to trust what they were doing. I say "Trust but Verify." (Ronald Reagan). They should have a quarterly or bi-annual Citizens Forum to discuss how our tax dollars are being spent.
Q. Do you feel the city’s selection process in choosing which streets should be improved during the beginning stages of repairs is fair and reasonable?
A. The question is not where do we begin to repair our city streets but how do we complete and met our current and future upgrades? We need as a city to sit down to identify, prioritize and put together a strategic plan to find ways to build and repair our streets Better, Faster, Cheaper. If we find ways to build our streets "Right the First Time" our rework cost for maintenance and repair will be dramatically reduced. The price of asphalt has increased 230 % over the last 10 years. There are new materials available on the market today called Bio-Asphalts made from organic recyclables that last longer, easier to apply and cost less than petroleum based asphalts and do not contaminate the environment. We need to be researching those types of alternatives.
Q. Which approach do you favor in developing the city’s water supply infrastructure?
A. There are 5 supply options up for consideration. All the way from drilling new wells, to installing new pipelines, to pumping water from Waurika Lake to refill Lake Humphreys. These are all good suggestions but where was the discussion 2, 4 or 6 years ago? Again I would I say that we as a city need to sit down and identify, prioritize and build a strategic plan to address the issues facing our city before they become a crisis. I recently attended the Oklahoma Water Resources Board presentation held at the Simmons Center where I petitioned the OWRB to select our city of Duncan to be one of their " Hot Spot Conservation Research Sites" to assist us in determining the best course of action to pursue to meet our current and future needs. We need all of the help we can get on this one.
Q. What changes, if any, would you like to see Duncan make in the quality of life it offers to its residents?
A. As Duncan has grown from a town to a city and in the future a small metropolis. I see us needing to become a more "User Friendly" community. We need to improve the access to our retail establishments specifically Wal Mart. We will need to be looking at providing the need of a public transportation system to reduce the amount of traffic on our main thruways. In new housing development areas I would like to see play parks and sidewalks so our children will have a safe environment to learn to ride a bike or spend some time with nature. The future of Duncan will be determined by the decisions and choices we make today. Our actions today determines the outcome of tomorrow.