Edmond Set To Vote On New Safety Center

Wednesday, October 5th 2011, 10:45 pm
By: News 9

Dana Hertneky, News 9

EDMOND, Oklahoma -- In less than a week, Edmond voters will decide if a new public safety center is worth a half cent sales tax increase.

It will be the second time city officials have tried to convince voters to fork over the money for the facility.

According to the Edmond police chief, the current police station, jail and 9-1-1 center are old, out of date and too small.

He says to keep Edmond's crime rate low, they need the new facility.

The booking center for the Edmond jail is pretty old school.

And so is the jail itself, according to the police chief, who says they only have five cells to hold prisoners.

"If there's a queue and people are lined up, they may make a decision that this guy, it was his lucky night. He may not get arrested," said Edmond Police Chief Bob Ricks.

He also says detectives are crammed into small cubicles, the crime lab is insufficient, and the 9-1-1 center frequently floods.

"When this was built it was for a city of 34,000 people, now we're at 85,000 people," Ricks said.

Still, back in 2008, voters rejected a proposal to build a new public safety center, but presently there is no organized opposition to the proposal.

Downtown business owners aren't opposed to a sales tax increase.

"I don't think it would hurt our business at all," said Karen Morton, a downtown business owner.

"We already have one of the lower sales taxes in the area," added Mary Edwards.

Right now the problem seems to be apathy.

"I hadn't heard anything about it," said Devin Giddens.

But, at first glance, most voters we talked to say they would vote yes.

"If it's for the public safety system, I think it's a good idea because I love that Edmond is a safe community," said Edmond resident Chelsea Bingham.

"They've gone without, but I think it's time they get what's due to them," agreed Paula Turpin, another Edmond resident.

"It would seem to me that the money could be better spent elsewhere besides seeing how many more people we can throw in jail," said Giddens.

This newest facility would cost $25.5 million. The sales tax would last five years.

That price tag is cheaper than the 2008 proposal which would have increased property taxes.