A half-dozen things Tulsa should be doing instead of raising taxes


A reader writes:

Give me 2 things the City should do instead of Vision 2025 (if it should do anything), and explain how those 2 things would be funded.

Here are a few of my ideas:

(1) A Tulsa venture capital fund, something I am told we lack, and it's hurting our ability to create new jobs. This would be funded and managed privately, set up with the purpose of helping innovative ideas get off the ground here in Tulsa. I would hope our elected officials would use their "bully pulpits" to promote the idea, and encourage Tulsans who invest around the country and around the world, to invest in Tulsa as well. I could even imagine small investors participating. Cost to taxpayers -- zero -- unless the legislature would provide some tax benefit for investing in funds of this type, which might be a good idea.

(2) Coupled with that -- put some energy into and bring attention to "Tulsa's Top Talent" -- the effort to keep laid off high-tech workers in Tulsa by helping match their skills to business needs. A start's been made, but there are very few participants thus far.

(3) Begin now to prepare for the upcoming legislative session, work with OKC Mayor Humphreys and the mayors of our larger cities, and build support in the legislature for reforms to make Oklahoma a more attractive place to start and grow a business. No extra cost here -- the Mayor just needs to redirect his attention away from convincing us to raise our own taxes, and focus his energy and political capital on our state leaders.

(4) Fund some of the "community enrichment" projects as part of the next city bond issue (2004), third-penny sales tax (2006), or "4 to fix the county" (also 2006), when we'll be voting to renew existing taxes, not raising them. Again, no extra money from the taxpayers.

(5) Implement the recommendations of the Mayor's Performance Review, and continue the process to cover the entirety of city government. There may be some up-front costs, but the result will be long term savings and greater customer satisfaction. The process has been privately funded, and if the Mayor actually implements the recommendations, donors may be willing to continue the process.

(6) Fire the Chamber of Commerce. We've been paying them to do economic development and convention and tourism promotion -- over $60 million in hotel/motel tax dollars since 1987. They haven't done much for us. Their head of economic development says he has no idea how to grow high-tech jobs in Tulsa. This money was earmarked originally for construction, upkeep, and improvements to the convention center, but the Chamber convinced then-Mayor Dick Crawford to give them half of it. In contrast, Omaha allocates hotel/motel funds to pay directly for improvements to local tourist attractions.

How's that for a start?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 1, 2003 12:40 AM.

Whirled editor asks, "When Will States, Cities Stop Bribing Companies?" was the previous entry in this blog.

Convention industry "hunkering down, no turnaround in sight" is the next entry in this blog.

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