Raising taxes makes a city livable?


Tulsa made a list of nine most livable large cities, a designation awarded by Partners for Livable Communities. The website for the "Most Livable" program is mostlivable.org.

Mayor LaFortune said yesterday, "There's no doubt Vision 2025 was the reason that Tulsa received this award."

We passed Vision 2025 seven months ago. The tax went into effect three and a half months ago. How has Vision 2025 tangibly affected the livability of Tulsa in that time? I'm not asking about the effects we were promised or the effects we hope for. I'm asking about real, tangible changes.

Here are the changes I know about: The tax rate is higher. Bank of Oklahoma and F&M Bank get to handle a lot of bond business. The Program Management Group has a big contract to provide overall management. That's about it. The rest is all talk until the facilities are complete and open to the public. That's when we can judge if our quality of life has been improved by this $535 million tax increase.

But as nutty as it sounds, the Mayor may be right about why Tulsa got this recognition. A quick glance at the criteria reveals a focus on process, rather than actual results. This award may not be so much for livability as it is for using certain strategies and processes which the organization believes may ultimately lead to livability. I guess it's harder to fit "One of the Cities Embracing Certain Processes and Strategies That We Believe May Ultimately Lead to Livability" on a trophy.

The full description of each city is embargoed until April 20, but here's the excerpt they've posted about Tulsa to tide us over 'til then:

The City of Tulsa through its Economic Development Commission has partnered with the Tulsa Metro Chamber since 1977 in marketing and advertising programs with economic development and convention and tourism strategies. The EDC oversees a portion of the 5% room tax collected by the city, and uses those monies to provide promotion and attraction, retention and recruitment through a contract with the TMC to provide economic development services and a convention and visitors bureau.

The Chamber raises additional funds for those areas through an annual resource campaign directing cash and trade to offset budget to programs, as well as membership dollars and other private business partnerships.

A future program of the Chamber includes developing a privately financed economic development opportunity fund to utilize in expanding current attraction and retention efforts.

How does the fact that the Chamber handles economic development contribute to the quality of life? Having good jobs would contribute to the quality of life. Having a certain approach to funding and managing economic development activities would only affect my quality of life if it results in good jobs.

If you're rating livability itself, you'd be looking at crime rate, climate, affordability, recreational opportunities, quality of education at all levels, and the friendliness of the people -- all factors which affect how pleasant it is to live some place. I wouldn't expect that list to change much from year to year.

The proof is in the pudding.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 16, 2004 7:37 AM.

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