Area residents were given information on the proposed one-cent sales tax extension during Friday’s Ada Area Chamber of Commerce legislative luncheon. City representatives, including three city council members, explained plans for the money’s use and answered questions during the luncheon and special called meeting of Ada City Council at Pontotoc Technology Center.
Mayor Darrell Nemecek began the meeting by explaining that because three city council members were in attendance it was a special called meeting. Other council members attending were Matt Layton and Vice-Mayor Shane Sweeney.
During a PowerPoint presentation, city representatives presented information concerning their respective departments that would be affected by monies collected from the proposed one-cent sales tax extension. Proposed priorities for use of the funds include construction of a fire station, police station, 911 station and sports complex in phase one. Phase two consists of an engineering study and design of a raw water line. Purchase of street lights and central lights for the downtown area would be included in phase three, remodeling and refurbishing of City Hall and other city facilities.
In response to questions about when the tax would take effect, Nemecek said, “The proposed one-cent sales tax would not start until the hospital tax goes off.”
“We are not trying to create a dream when the funds are not here,” said Sweeney.
Randy McFarlin, Ada parks and recreation director, said the city does not own Matthews Park where city-sanctioned baseball, softball and soccer games are played. There is no room for expansion or to conduct large sports tournaments at the park. McFarlin said the proposed sports complex would encompass space for all outdoor sports and he compared Ada’s proposed plans to the sports facility at Durant.
McFarlin also reported proposed plans for updating downtown street lights that would take electrical wires underground.
Marion Harris, Ada fire chief, told residents that Central Fire Station is more than 100 years old and was not designed for today’s equipment, safety codes or for male/female firefighters. He said fire fighting vehicles are much larger today than when the building was built. Today’s fire truck is 35 feet long compared to trucks 100 years ago that were approximately the size of today’s small passenger car.
Harris also pointed out 400-500 pound stone blocks that are breaking away from the outside of Central Fire Station’s building. “We are not sure what we need to do,” he said.
Mike Miller, Ada police chief, demonstrated the need for more space at the police station by showing pictures of crowded offices that serve double duty as storage areas. He said currently officers have no private interview rooms or designated storage for evidence. When Ada’s police station was constructed in 1963, Miller said there was 10 officers and one civilian employee. Today, there are 32 officers and 10 civilian employees working in the same space.
Gene Linton, emergency management director, said 911 dispatch is located in the west end of City Hall and shares space with the water department. The dispatch area opened in 2001 and covers 23 agencies county wide. According to Linton, there is a need for more dispatchers and equipment. However “There is no room to grow,” he said.
“New facilities would include well-ventilated rooms for computer equipment,” he said.
“With the tax going off from the hospital, we look at this as an opportunity to make improvements to the city,” said Nemecek. “Why should be stay the way we are?”
“If we don’t pass this tax, we are just passing the problem on to the next generation,” said Wendell Godwin, new dean of East Central University school of business.