Saturday, July 19, 2008

Welcoming Our New Neighbors

During the past few weeks, one of my obligations as State Representative has been to go door to door visiting with local residents. Since I first started going door to door in 2004, I have tried to place a special emphasis on contact with those who have just moved into the district. I think it is important to provide a welcoming presence to those who have made the choice to invest in our community and I am always excited by the opportunity to make their acquaintance.

I must say, though, that for the first time, meeting the new residents has become a very time consuming task. During the past weeks I have visited hundreds of new houses that are built on what were just open fields in 2004. Even more amazing are the large number of newly platted house lots yet to be built on which will no doubt bring in hundreds of more new residents in the near future.

Next week I will write about some of the challenges this massive growth presents to local infrastructure. However, I feel it is important to address the many beneficial factors, as I believe the positives outweigh the challenges.

I have found that many of the new residents share our traditional conservative values of small government, low taxes and traditional family values. They are hard working people who move out of the city in order to raise their families in the safety of rural north Oklahoma County and Logan County. As such, they have a special appreciation for our small town lifestyle and I believe they want to help preserve it.

With this new growth comes an ever expanding tax base. With more taxpayers, naturally there 'should be' a lower tax burden. For instance, in the past few years the Logan County sales tax burden has been one of the highest and was mostly shared by Guthrie and Crescent as many residents south of Guthrie spent much of their tax dollars in Edmond and Oklahoma City. This was due to the fact that they did not have retail buying opportunities in their own neighborhoods. However, there is now significant retail growth along Waterloo Road that will make it possible for more people to spend their money in Logan County, and the sales tax levels should be able to dramatically shrink as a result.

Another big impact of this growth will be in dictating a higher allotment of road funding dollars. The Census Bureau recently accepted a list of newly built neighborhoods, which means that in the upcoming census, Logan County could report well over 40,000 residents. With this kind of growth, the area should receive more state road revenues, because county roads are partially funded on the basis of population. The growth could also ensure that more areas of the county qualify for urbanized area federal transportation funding that is traditionally used to improve roadways in bigger cities.

And, with these kinds of dramatic gains in the census the area also stands to pick up more seats in the State Legislature.

Although it keeps me busy, it has been an honor to be able to serve as State Representative for such a dynamic district during a time of explosive growth.

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