theadanews.com - Ada, Oklahoma

Letters

March 17, 2012

Letters to the Editor

Ada —  

Dear Editor,

I am a citizen that is concerned about fire protection in Pontotoc County. However, my concern for fiscal responsibility and accountability of tax dollars far outweighs my concern for improved fire protection. 

I value and greatly appreciate all the hard work of every fire department in Pontotoc County and believe that these departments may need support and assistance, but am unsure at what level.

If these departments would have a needs assessment conducted, the citizens of Pontotoc County and I would know exactly what each one needed and the total costs of these improvements. A needs assessment is vital to any sales tax initiative because it shows exactly how taxpayer money will be spent and without one how can I be sure that the over $1 million per year that this sales tax initiative generates will be used to address the actual needs of these departments? 

The sales tax initiative on the ballot on April 3rd would increase the sales tax in Pontotoc County by a quarter of a cent for 7 years, which would be split evenly between 15 fire departments. Projections indicate that this tax would generate over 7 million dollars, which would give each fire department over $500,000, when most are operating on $10,000 or less per year. This significant increase in funding has no accountability structure behind it, and there’s no guarantee these taxpayer funds would be spent to improve fire protection for the citizens of Pontotoc County. 

There are already questions regarding the eligibility of nearly half the departments in Pontotoc County to receive these funds. If the sales tax initiative passes and these departments are ruled ineligible what would happen to the money collected for these departments? Would it sit idle, never to be spent, or would it be split between the eligible departments, which would mean only certain areas of the county would see improvements in fire protection? 

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