By ROBERT PIERCE
• Leader & Times
Last August, Liberal city commissioners approved a budget of nearly $30.7 million with a levy of 43.094 mills.
The mill levy is a property tax rate, and J.D. Cox would like to see the city’s property taxes lowered. One of eight candidates seeking three seats on the city commission, Cox said the board and city staff need to use common sense when spending taxpayers’ money.
“I’ve saved all these years,” he said. “I drove a truck. I’ve got everything paid off. I don’t owe anybody anything. I just want to help cut the personal property taxes and help our neighbors.”
Cox said he has been on the fence for many years, criticizing how things were done, and now, he wants to do something about that.
“My grandpa always told me you should run for office one time no matter what,” he said. “I’m not going to put a bunch of signs up, and I’m not going to spend a bunch of money. I was an oilfield brat, moved around a lot. In the last two years of high school, I went here. I’ve never had much. My wife and I have saved all of these years, and we’ve accumulated a little bit. I’d like to be able to know where our money’s going common-sense wise.”
Cox, now 76, has spent most of his life in Liberal, and he has seen both the good and bad sides of what the community has to offer.
“I’ve had a lot of fun in this town,” he said. “I raised three boys here, and out of the three, two of them graduated from college. I went to high school here, and I know everybody. I worked here. I just don’t like the way they’re handling our money. Let’s use common sense, and do it right. Back off and study it before you jump in.”
Cox also had a different approach he believes people should look at with the proposed rec center that will be put to a vote in May.
“There’s three reasons I’m not for it,” he said. “First of all, you can’t build around it. It’s not going to help the south end of town. It’s not going to help the north end of town much. It’s going to be built out by the airport.”
Cox said the second factor in his objection to a rec center is the high costs of maintenance and upkeep of the facility, as well as the proposed membership price. He suggested the city look in another direction for answers to its recreation questions.
“I’d say hire two people and put up a bond, and get the school to go along with it,” he said. “Open up a gym on each end of the town where they could be open year round. If there’s any repairs or any damage, it can be covered.”
Cox said school officials could authorize use of the gyms, and a person could be hired to be responsible for the facilities.
“Keep the gyms open year round on both ends of town. In that way, everybody can go in and enjoy themselves,” he said.
Cox said overall, he feels the city can spend its money more wisely without a rec center.
“There’s no telling how high taxes are going to be, and if gas gets to $5 a gallon, you can’t afford to be driving all over to work out,” he said.
Cox said his purpose in seeking a seat on the commission is simple.
“I’m just running to help the people,” he said.