The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

December 19, 2012

Raising $$ for parks: City commission to consider measures to raise $50 million

By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Enid city commissioners will hold a special meeting today to consider two measures to raise $50 million for city parks improvements.

The proposals before the commission today would raise $20 million by increasing the city sales tax rate by one-half percent for five years, and pay for $30 million in general obligation bonds by extending an existing 7 mill ad valorem tax for a term of seven years.

The 7 mill ad valorem tax previously was enacted to fund city bridge improvements.

Commissioners will consider an amendment to the municipal tax code to accommodate the proposals, and another ordinance that specifies the ballot terms and calls an election on the proposals for March 5.

Emergency ordinance

Election questions

According to the ballot terms in the city commission agenda for today’s special meeting, the one-half percent increase in sales tax rate would begin July, 1 2013, and would expire June 30, 2018.

The seven-year continuation of the 7 mill ad valorem tax would cover the interest and establish a sinking fund to make principal payments on the $30 million in bonds, which would be due after a term of 20 years and be limited to no more than 10 percent interest per year.

If approved by voters, the combined $50 million in funding would provide for repairs and upgrades to existing parks and construction of two new city parks.

The majority of the parks plan would be funded by the $30 million in bond issues. According to the city proposition, $21 million of the $30 million would be split between construction of two new city parks and upgrades to existing neighborhood parks.

The $21 million would represent more than 70 percent of the bond issue, meeting the statutory requirement that at least 70 percent of city bonds be earmarked for specific projects.

The largest development in the bond plan would be a new park at 30th and Randolph, which would include “softball fields, soccer fields, football fields, outdoor basketball courts, playgrounds, a skate park, picnic shelters, restrooms and concession facilities,” at a cost of $13.4 million.

A new park would be located in the city’s central business district, “with lighting and speakers, a decorative water feature, site furnishings and landscaping,” at a cost of about $820,000.

The remaining $6.8 million would be split between improvement projects at all of the city’s neighborhood parks.

The remainder of the unspecified bond funds and the $20 million in sales tax funds would be utilized for parks improvements beyond those specified to meet the bond requirements, possibly including addition of a water feature at the 30th and Randolph park and additions to the city’s trail system.

If the commissioners approve the propositions today, city of Enid voters will determine the fate of the $50 million in funding March 5 through two separate ballot measures: one for the five-year, one-half percent sales tax increase and one for the issuance of the $30 million in bonds.

Commissioners will meet at noon today in commission chambers at the city administration building, 401 W. Garriott.

Read more in Friday’s and Sunday’s editions of the Enid News & Eagle.