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Audience members compare notes Wednesday, as residents packed the auditorium of Lawton City Hall to hear a discussion and offer suggestions and questions about a new Capital Improvements Program. City Council members say the issue will return to the council floor for more discussion next week, during the regular meeting.

CIP meeting draws crowd

A capacity crowd listened and offered comments Wednesday as the City Council outlined four proposals for a new Capital Improvements Program.

At meeting's end, six council members indicated they would continue discussions on a new CIP at next Tuesday's regular council meeting, with the starting point being a proposal for an 11-year, seven-eighths percent sales tax that would generate, under conservative estimates, $100.9 million for public safety buildings, police and fire personnel costs, Lawton Public Schools projects, recreation, and infrastructure work.

City Attorney Frank Jensen had asked for clarification on the ordinance that will set the perimeters for the revenue source and projects to be funded, a document the council must set before Jensen writes the ballot proposition that will be submitted to Lawton voters. Time is an issue and may mean the council will hold another special meeting in coming weeks: Some council members want an Aug. 26 election on the sales tax proposal and that ballot proposition must be submitted to the Comanche County Election Board by June 11.

That election date is one of several debates council members had Wednesday, as they worked their way through the process that created the four proposals outlined at the meeting. The major difference among the proposals: One submitted by City Manager Bryan Long included an ad valorem component that he suggested could pay for the $33.775 million public safety facility that would house a new police station, jail and municipal court. The other proposals rely on the idea of extending two existing sales taxes: A one-half percent tax now allocated to Lawton Public Schools and set to expire Dec. 31, and a three-eighths percent tax that funds the 2008 CIP, set to expire June 30, 2015 (under all proposals, the last six months of that tax would be suspended).

The Lawton Constitution

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