I am a longtime supporter of our Oklahoma City employees, including our excellent police and fire departments. However, I am disappointed to learn the police and fire union representatives have decided at the last minute to oppose MAPS 3. No one can argue we need to support our firefighters and police officers with whatever means necessary. However, using MAPS 3 as a platform to gain more resources only punishes the citizens who have supported public safety and jeopardizes the future of our city.
A check of the city's Web site shows public safety already receives 53 percent of the operating budget and 65 percent of the general fund budget. In fact, more than $56 million of the 2007 general obligation bond went directly to support public safety. When called upon, the citizens have always provided our police and firefighters the necessary resources, including the ongoing dedicated public safety sales tax.
Local companies are doing what they can to keep their doors open and avoid layoffs during these challenging economic times. Most people are just happy to have a job right now! City sales tax revenues are down, which impacts the city's budget. Our elected officials are doing whatever they can to avoid layoffs of our city employees " including police and fire positions! This is not the time for the fire and police unions to be asking for additional resources.
The best way to support police and fire is to vote "yes" on Dec. 8 and grow our economy " it's that simple! MAPS 1 continues to have a tremendous impact on our economy. This new MAPS package will also grow the economy without increasing our current taxes. What has made Oklahoma City great and different from other cities is our ability to work together for the common good. Our city has accomplished so much since MAPS 1; we cannot afford to return to the days of old political games and infighting. I encourage the police and fire union representatives to reconsider their position on MAPS 3 and be the heroes instead of the spoilers!
"Mike McAuliffe, Oklahoma City
McAuliffe, the co-founder of the Oklahoma City Employees Association, served as chief of staff for Mayors Ron Norick and Andy Coats.