The Oklahoma Municipal League (OML) Executive Director Carolyn Stager came to Altus on Tuesday, May 1 for part of the OML Good Will Tour. Since Stager started the touring in 2010, she’s made it to 150 of OML’s 462 member communities. If that seems like a large number of cities and towns, that’s because OML has been at their job for 99 years now. The OML web site (www.oml.org) shows Stager’s tour records for the past two years. Stager’s journaling of each tour gives a flavor of the towns and cities, spotlighting the main attractions, and giving a bit of the local history. Now a record of her Altus tour will join them.
Stager started the tours as a way to better communicate with OML-member communities. She feels there’s really no substitute for face-to-face visits with community leaders. In an article on their OML web site Stager said, “I want to hear what is on their minds and how OML can best serve them — we’re a service organization, after all,” she said. “I plan to be a better communicator with our towns and cities. The best way to do that is to get out and share with our members what’s going on at OML, and in turn, hear from them about what is happening in their communities.”
She says, “United we have a collective voice.” One voice that is starting to be heard is the message that Oklahoma loses $185 to $225 million in sales tax revenues when people make purchases online. The “Marketplace Fairness Act” and “Marketplace Equity Act” are bills being considered in the U.S. Congress that address the loss of tax revenues through online sales. Someone else is taking the issue to heart, because for the 2010 to 2011 fiscal year Altus brought in $18,971 from people who voluntarily paid state sales tax. Stager said in an article in the Oklahoma City Gazette, Dec. 21, 2011, “We encourage you to do the right thing and claim these purchases when filing your Oklahoma taxes. Our cities, towns, and local businesses thank you!” Someone in Altus has been listening.
OML is a valuable asset in economic development for Oklahoma cities and towns. They shepherd over several municipal groups and they sponsor events. OML provides information on grants and loans and offer publications to benefit municipalities. According to Stager, “Cities and towns win or lose together.” She summed it up nicely, “OML is your organization.”