ALTUS, Okla. (TNN) - Renovations to the Altus Reservoir, lower electric rates and several upgrades to Altus Public Schools could be on the way if Altus voters approve a Make Altus Progressive, or MAPS, program later this year.
Back in 2008, Altus voters headed to the polls and approved a MAPS program. That brought a sales tax increase and allowed the city to complete several projects, such as building a new city hall. Now, that sales tax is set to expire. City officials are hoping MAPS II can take its place. That would jumpstart a whole new list of projects, including the biggest one - major renovations at the Altus Reservoir.
"We’re actually going to be circulating water from Tom Steed, freshwater, so it will actually be better for recreational activities but it can also be used as a backup for drinking water. With that, we’re going to do some things to make it more friendly for activities. We’re wanting to make it the hub of activity in Altus, Oklahoma,” said Altus City Manager Gary Jones.
Recreational upgrades at the reservoir would include new jogging trails, lights, an amphitheater, picnic pavilion and even new sidewalks and trails from within the city to the reservoir. The city would also renovate places like the community center, swimming pool, city auditorium and animal shelter while also putting in new, affordable housing on Veterans Drive.
"It’s really in the planning stages right now but what we’re doing with that property on veterans is working with a land developer to really make that a planned community development out there. We’ll have some commercial activities, maybe some restaurants out there and really make it an area that’s attractive,” Jones said.
As was the case for MAPS I, half of the money from MAPS II would go to Altus Public Schools to address several issues.
"Safe rooms at the remaining sites that we don’t have safe rooms. At two of the sites, they’re going to double as wrestling facilities. At one of the sites, it will double as a STEM lab. We’re excited about that. Some bus shelters at some of the sites, security cameras at the remaining sites as well,” said Altus Public Schools Superintendent Roe Worbes.
Other issues, including restrooms and on-campus sidewalks across the district, would also be addressed. All of those ideas came from surveying the community and staff.
"What was interesting about our two surveys with the community and then the faculty and staff is the top five things I’ve listed were the same five in both surveys. They weren’t necessarily the same order but they both had the top five as the same,” Worbes said.
If this is all passed, there would be a change to the sales tax rate in Altus. Currently, MAPS I is a 1.75% sales tax increase. If MAPS II is passed, that would drop to 1.5% percent, but a second proposal, a .625% increase, would be used to address an issue many Altus residents have.
"We’ve heard from the citizens of Altus that the electric rates are too high. We only have certain sources of revenue so what we’re looking it is a way we can reduce the electric rates for the citizens,” Jones said.
If passed, the total sales tax would go from the 8.875% it is now up to 9.25%. Jones says anyone with questions about the MAPS II project is welcome to call his office at city hall and speak directly to him about it.