Norman Voters Reject All Four “GO Norman 2020” Bonds
All four “Go Norman 2020” bond propositions, which consisted of city projects with a combined cost of about $120 million, failed to pass in Tuesday’s county election.
The propositions were voted on separately and aimed to finish the remaining Norman FORWARD projects, address homelessness in the city, renovate and expand municipal facilities and develop a relief program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“2020 has certainly not been short on challenges, and the outcome of tonight will undoubtedly present added challenges going forward,” Mayor Breea Clark Tweeted Tuesday night. “Normanites can rest assured that our Council and city staff are up for it!”
According to the city’s website, the average Norman homeowner would have paid about $14 a month if all four bonds were approved.
Proposition 1, the most expensive proposition, was rejected by about 59% of voters. It would have provided $85.6 million toward the completion of the remaining projects for Norman FORWARD, a proposal that was approved by voters in 2015 to fund quality-of-life projects such as a $59.4 million indoor multi-sport and aquatic facility.
Clark said this facility would have allowed Norman to host more sports tournaments which she said could create more economic opportunities and help the city recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Not only is it less travel for our athletes, but it helps bring that sport tourism piece to get people to stay in our community, to stay in our hotels and eat at our restaurants,” Clark said.
But Cynthia Rogers, an economics professor at the University of Oklahoma, said research suggests sports facilities do not serve as economic drivers for the community and that pools typically don’t generate enough revenue to cover their expenses.
“I think the question that we missed and the city just kind of skipped this step was ‘What’s the optimal size pool to balance all our needs and work within our budget?,’” Rogers said. “I think that’s the conversation we need to have, not do we want a pool or not. As taxpayers, we don’t get to vote on the size we want. We get take it or leave it.”
Proposition 2 would have authorized $5 million toward research, planning and construction for “one or more built solutions” for Norman’s homeless population. This proposal ended in the closest contest out of the four, being rejected by a difference of about 1.5% of the vote.
Proposition 3 would have provided $24.3 million to renovate municipal facilities such as the police department, city hall and fleet and fire maintenance facilities. Clark said this would have created a “user friendly, one-stop shop” permitting location since these offices are currently housed in different buildings.
This proposition would have also funded the construction of a new emergency operations/dispatch center, which is currently located in the basement of the police department. About 61% of voters rejected the measure.
Proposition 4 would have authorized $5 million to create a relief program for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We could see the holes in funding that was coming from the state and the federal government to help these businesses and so ours (relief program) was looking at really kind of supporting the smaller businesses,” Clark said.
The proposition would have also reimbursed businesses for expenses associated with transitioning to online services during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Clark.
About 59% of the votes for the proposal were “No.”
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