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October 19, 1996

Perry voters should be placing a bright red ring around the calendar on next Thursday, October 24. That's the date of a town meeting at the Perry high school auditorium to discuss the very important Perry improvement program to be voted on as part of the November 5 general election. This could well be one of the most crucial municipal issues to be laid before Perry residents in what's left of the 20th century, and that makes the town forum an event of the greatest magnitude. Don't dismiss this package until you've heard the facts about it, and that's what the October 24 meeting is all about. It will start at 7 p.m. and conclude by 9 p.m.

There should be a huge turnout for this meeting. Many people are in a quandary, frankly, about the multi-purpose program included in this package. They have heard conflicting reports about the objectives from well-meaning individuals, but I fear some of those reports have been based on a lack of understanding. At the town meeting, you will be hearing straight talk from the local officials to whom you and I have delegated the responsibility of making sure that this town has adequate facilities to meet the needs of its citizens.

These people are not out to make a name for themselves or line their own pockets. They are merely fulfilling their obligation by telling us what it takes to provide the kind of municipal services we expect and demand. Time will be provided for thorough discussion by those who represent both sides of the proposal. That means you will hear the whole story stated as clearly as possible by people who can give us the facts. You can be an active or passive part of the evening. Bring your questions, or just listen. Get reliable answers. Then decide how you'll vote on November 5.

If approved, the proposal would add 2.75 cents to our municipal sales tax, and that would only bring us to the approximate level of every city of any size in this part of Oklahoma. For some time we have had a much smaller tax bite than Ponca City, Stillwater, Enid, and, of course, Oklahoma City. That is not necessarily something to brag about, especially when there are so many things that need upgrading or fixing in our town.

Specifically, our current most pressing needs are an alternative water supply, repairs to 44 miles of city streets, and a way to continue making Perry Memorial Hospital the kind of healthcare facility we require. These are not frills. They are bare, basic necessities.

Cities, states and indeed the federal government have been faced with growing funding problems for years, and our little town on the prairie is no different. Do we want well-surfaced streets without potholes? How about a guaranteed fresh water supply without rationing every summer? And adequate medical care is so basic it would seem that discussion of it is hardly needed. These things don't occur by magic, or by wishing the problem would go away. It takes cash to get the job done.

Our city officials have analyzed the problems at hand and have come up with reasonable solutions. Every thoughtful citizen in this community should feel compelled to attend the town meeting on October 24 to arm himself/herself with accurate information. Then we can make up our minds as we perceive the need, and finally go vote on November 5.

We'll also be balloting on some other mighty important matters that day. Listen to the debate and read everything you can about all of them, and be prepared to declare yourself at the poll. In case it needs to be stated again your vote is important. Be sure to cast it.