How much has Mustang Town Center affected the city and its residents?
It seems pretty easy to answer that question – from the thousands of people who attend special events, the families who travel to the library, to the pool, to the recreation center to gardeners and sports enthusiasts, to seniors coming together for fun and companionship.
All of these things were made possible by something seemingly small, but which has turned out to be a significant investment, a 1-cent sales tax. That tax has been in existence since 1996.
City officials are asking voters on Aug. 23 to continue that tax through its original expiration date of 2030. The request itself shows how well Mustang’s finances have been managed, as the obligations incurred in connection with the original tax will be paid off in 2017, more than 13 years ahead of schedule.
I think that’s a pretty good reason to consider officials’ proposal now to continue the tax. Doing so – extending a tax, not adding a new one – could provide at least $25 million for new projects across the city. Comprised of everything from public safety improvements and recreation add-ons to necessary infrastructure upgrades, all of those items proposed could mean a lot for Mustang and for its residents.
City Manager Tim Rooney and his staff, as well as Mayor Jay Adams and his fellow council members, are justifiably proud of the city’s financial position, particularly during a time when many municipalities are hurting, thanks to a messed up state economy and some classic examples of poor planning.
That’s clearly not the situation here. Administrators have been prudent with Mustang’s finances and are eying projects that would have a positive impact on everyone. A needed fire sub-station slated for the east side of town – complete with an emergency operations center – dispatch system upgrades and new equipment would help boost Mustang’s fire and police departments, both recognized throughout the state for the quality of their services and personnel.
It is easy to see how Mustang Parks and Recreation, the city library and senior center have made a difference in many, many lives. From the small children who might read their first words to those who enjoy the huge variety of programs made possible by the genius of Jean Heasley and her staff, the center is known far beyond the 12-square-miles of Mustang’s borders.
The approval of the continued sales tax would expand and continue the city’s forward momentum in these areas – and more. More sports teams will be able to enjoy Mustang’s facilities, more seniors will have the chance to make friends and continue their active lives, Wild Horse Park and its services will get bigger and better.
Of course, some of the things slated for completion, should voters approve the tax, aren’t really exciting. But, they are needed. Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has issued mandates to update Mustang’s wastewater treatment plant, and a growing city will always need to upgrade and improve roads.
All of these things – and more – would be possible with the continuation of this tax, something I doubt any of us even notice. And, it’s paid for by a lot of people who don’t live within Mustang’s city limits, a benefit that is not just seen through the tax itself, but through those individuals and families who enjoy Mustang’s service. They are people who not only visit Town Center, but who eat dinner in our restaurants, buy gas and groceries here, people who might just move here because Mustang is such a great place to live.
Continuing this sale is an investment, a good investment. Mustang, and all of us, are worth it.