McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

November 6, 2012

McAlester voters pass one proposition, reject the other

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — McAlester voters approved one of the two city propositions related to refinancing a bond package and funding approximately $12 million  in street projects, but rejected the other.

As City Manager Pete Stasiak and Mayor Steve Harrison said many times before the election, both measures had to pass or nothing would change.

The failure of one of the propositions means in effect the plan has failed.

“Obviously, I’m disappointed,” Harrison said Tuesday night after Proposition 2 failed.

“We apparently had more than 500 people split their ballots,” he said, a reference to voters who obviously cast ballots in favor of the first measure, but rejected the second.

“We tried to educate voters unless both ballots passed, we would be unable to do the street projects,” Harrison said.

Stasiak also had some comments Tuesday night following the election.

“I’m disappointed. I think the city was ready to build a new street construction project,” he said.

Stasiak acknowledged even before the election that the way the propositions had been written based on input from the city’s advisers had been complicated.

“We all knew it was confusing if you read it and didn’t understand it,” Stasiak said.

Both Stasiak and Harrison said in separate interviews that the city will reevaluate things before deciding what to do next.

Proposition No. 1 asked voters to approve a $40 million package to refinance the McAlester Public Works Authority’s 1999A Revenue Bonds.

That measure received 3,097 “yes” votes, compared with 2,475 “no” votes, passing with 55.58 percent of the vote.

Proposition 2 asked for authority to levy a one-cent sales tax, to supersede a current tax.

That proposition failed with 3,033 “no” votes, compared with 2,540 who voted “yes,” failing by 54.42 percent.

Harrison said last week the city split the measure into  two questions on the advice of the city’s bond attorneys.

“The reason there are two propositions is that according to state law, only one topic can be on a single question,”  Harrison said.

In order to enact the city’s plan, both measures had to pass, he said at the time.

“Unless both pass, nothing changes,” Harrison had said.

On Proposition No. 1, the city wanted to re-purpose the use of an existing sales tax, Harrison said in an interview with the News-Capital last week.

“The second thing we’re asking for is permission to issue a new debt for up to $40 million,” he had said.

The measures dealt with the city’s 1999 and 2002 bond packages, both of which were enacted for Capital Improvement Projects at the time.

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