By Chris Day and Nick Woodruff
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Stillwater residents spoke loudly and clearly Tuesday, Common Sense First for Stillwater spokesman Hal Ellis said.
“I think this sends a message to the City Hall group and Chamber group that residents want them to take a good look at infrastructure — basic water, sewer and roads,” Ellis said minutes after voters soundly rejected all three “Our Stillwater” propositions.
Stillwater Mayor John Bartley called the election a learning experience, but not an end to attempts to make Stillwater a better place to live and work.
Nearly 5,950 Stillwater residents voted. Voters rejected the propositions by at least 70 percent.
Proposition 1 lost by 80.7 percent. Proposition 2 fell by 74.5 percent and Proposition 3 tumbled by 70.5 percent, according to complete, but unofficial results released by the Payne County Election Board. The election results will be certified Friday.
“We are very happy that so many got out and voted,” Ellis said.
Stillwater city and Chamber of Commerce officials worked together on the “Our Stillwater” proposals. The city rolled out its capital improvement plan in mid-July. The city put the propositions on the ballot in August.
Bartley, Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Lisa Navrkal and Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis campaigned for the Our Stillwater propositions.
Proposition 1 was a $20 million, 20-year bond issue to finance construction of a youth sports complex on city-owned land near Sangre and Richmond roads, and build an amphitheater and boardwalk at Boomer Lake Park.
Proposition 2 was a $7.5 million, 10-year bond issue to build and equip a fire station on Western Avenue, add 25 patrol vehicles for the Stillwater Police Department and upgrade the city’s emergency communications system.
Those propositions would have increased property taxes on a home with an assessed value of $150,000 by approximately $135 a year. The homeowner would be paying $1,769 a year, which is $1 less than the state average.
Proposition 3 would have raised the city’s sales tax to 9.313 percent with 1 percent permanently dedicated to improving roads, bridges and other transportation-related projects.
Tuesday’s election results knocked “Our Stillwater” proponents down, but they vowed to get up and continue their efforts.
Bartley said he is thankful for the voter turnout and the residents making their voices heard.
“It doesn’t mean we quit,” Bartley said. “It means we keep fighting a good fight. Stillwater is a very successful place and will always be a successful place.”
He said one thing is certain when looking at the results — “the people” have spoken. The city gave the residents ideas and the ideas were not what the residents wanted, he said.
Navrkal also said it was obvious the people let the city of Stillwater know what they wanted, and all they can do is continue to try and make Stillwater better.
“The people have spoken,” Navrkal said. “All we can do is look at the propositions, regroup and come back and try again.”