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HISTORIC ELECTION: Muskogee voting on first bond in 50+ years

Posted at 8:52 PM, Jun 17, 2024

MUSKOGEE, Okla. — For the first time in more than 50 years, Muskogee leaders are asking voters to pass a general obligation bond.

The bond, split into four propositions, is designed to fund $100 million worth of projects over a 25-year span.

A trip to Downtown Muskogee is a trip to the past. The buildings are nearing 100 years of age, and the roads surrounding them are in poor shape.

Mayor Patrick Cale embodies an ‘Okie from Muskogee.’ He’s lived in town for more than 50 years. As for how much his hometown has changed, “not a lot,” he said.

Across town, buildings are deteriorating, police cars are breaking down, the fire department is operating with outdated equipment, and roads are crumbling.

$78.6M: Muskogee asks voters to decide on first bond in 50 years

The city believes the bonds will fix those issues now and in the future.

Keith Titsworth plans to vote ‘yes’ because of the growth he sees in surrounding communities.

“They got new structures that are coming up, that’s actually making the town look nice,” Titsworth said. “Muskogee ain’t had that in years.”

Mark Hughes, on the other hand, isn’t sold.

“A lot of us [in opposition] don’t have any problems with what’s in the bond,” Hughes said, “We have a problem with the deceitfulness and, long term, how much it’s gonna cost us for our property taxes.”

According to estimates from the city, property taxes will increase by about $12.50 per $100,000 of a home’s value. Voters will vote on that and an extension of a sales tax. With 25 years' worth of projects, Titsworth has the kids in mind.

“It stinks for the kids, and the stuff that’s lacking,” Titsworth said, “They gotta go somewhere else like Tulsa, and Broken Arrow just to enjoy.”

Hughes believes 25 years is too far down the road. Instead, he suggests a five year plan.
“Say, we’re gonna fund the new police department, and the new fire station for this much money for five years,” Hughes said, “25 years, and we don’t know what the economy’s gonna do.”

The projects included in the bonds include a new police station, funding for first responders’ equipment, road construction and park improvements. A full list of the projects can be found here.

Residents will vote on the bond on Aug. 27.

“If it doesn’t pass, nothing changes,” Cale said.

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