County commission sets vote

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Just got word: To no one's surprise, the Tulsa County Commission voted unanimously to schedule an October 9 vote for a new seven year, 0.4% sales tax to fund river projects.

More commentary later.

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9 Comments

David Einstein said:

Looks like I'll be coming home from my Fall break vacation early to mark a big NO on the ballot for this one then.

Rogers said:

Just why do we need something in the middle of the river AND 9% taxes. How about nothing in the middle of the river AND 7% taxes. After all we do and say the Tulsa commissioners do what they darn well please.

How about voting them out and get some new people that listen to the voters?

sbtulsa said:

I agree with rogers. You only get quality if you pay attention. These three are way below the minimum standard for leadership and common sense.

susan said:

There are definitely people and developers that want to profit and make a lot of money from the river development.

Many Tulsa County voters remember the way the Vision 2025 was finally passed as well as a large number of Tulsa County voters that are still extremely skeptical of the many millions of dollars that is being spent on the downtown Tulsa arena of which those pushing the arena plan have yet to show us if it will truly make money. We know those that have real estate interests in that area wanted the arena to drive up the cost of their own real estate interests -- and of course, Bank of Oklahoma is located downtown Tulsa. Check out how Kaiser is connected to Bank of Oklahoma. Now the Arena in downtown Tulsa which taxpayers are paying millions for has the "BOK" mark.

Let's not forget Great Plains Airline of Tulsa
bankruptcy and the cost of that. Like the River Plan that is trying to get pushed to fast, the Great Plains Airline of Tulsa went into bankruptcy and around $27 million dollars in motor fuel tax revenue that normally would go to repair Oklahoma's substandard roads and bridges are being diverted to cover Oklahoma's losses from the Great Plains Airline of Tulsa failure. The dilapidated condition and cost to repair Oklahoma's roads and bridges is an important concern. Many of the Oklahoma's bridges are obsolete or structurally deficient.

Now Bixby's Mayor is pushing for the River Tax so that Bixby can be more profitable. Let's not forget about the flooding of Bixby and the cost of that. One private investor noted on the river development plan there are still many layers to work through. Why should we be rushed to vote on something that has not been well thought out and end up like the Great Plains of Tulsa plan that was also poorly thought out and accepted by our State Legislature as a great idea at the time.

As dealing making goes with the rich, there is some concern as to why the decision on the vote had to be made so quickly. Randi Miller said the KAISER MONEY (private funding) would DISAPPEAR if the decision were not made soon. Kaiser would put their money elsewhere.

Voters should be concerned and they should demand facts.

Susan Easter

susan said:

As Mayor, they see the River Tax funding things they want for Bixby. For one, they feel with the money from the River Tax, now they easily have the money they want to finish Bentley Park. Private donors could be sought for the finish of Bently Park, and there are a lot of rich people in Bixby -- see the excess number of banks in Bixby down Memorial! There are also a lot of people that made a lot of money off their land that was consideed very low dollar when a vote passed to help with the flooding problems Bixby was known for. The 1985 flooding of Bixby was very bad.

Can anyone guarantee a flooding of that magnitude will not happen again? No. Can you imagine the insurance cost to insure businesses along the river when that is a definite possibility -- the question would be not if but when?

Bixby's Economic Director is new and has no previous experience being an Economic Director. Being able to have the River Tax funding would easily put big things "they" accomplished when in reality it was really the taxpayers funding the Vision 2025 and however the River funding is accomplished that did the major accomplishments for their pushing the "yes" vote for the River Tax.

Bixby was not supposed to get a low-water dam because of the sand plants. If the sand plants move south, the land can be purchased and turned over to developers that want to make a huge profit from the taxpayer funding of the river.

Dan Hicks said:

NO River TAX!

Here we go again. At a time when our streets, crime rate, and schools are receiving failing grades, some city and county leaders feel the answer is to raise taxes and pour money into the Arkansas River. A recently published Tulsa World / KOTV poll indicated that a majority of Tulsa County voters have other priorities and would not support a river tax. It is not surprising that the most pressing problem on the minds of those surveyed is the condition of our streets.

Road repairs have been neglected for more than a decade to the point that motorists risk major vehicle damage as they try to navigate Tulsa’s moonscape, pot hole marked, obstacle course. At the first town hall meeting organized by Fred Perry, one gentleman evaluated the River TAX with the following analogy:

IF YOU OWN A HOME WHERE THE ROOF IS LEAKING, THE ELECTRICITY DOES NOT WORK, AND THE FOUNDATION IS CRACKING; YOU DON'T GO OUT AND BUY A NEW SWIMMING POOL!

With gas prices high and family budgets strained, many of us find the suggestion of raising our tax burden not only distasteful but down right offensive. We also know that once the tax rate goes up, it never comes back down. In order to better understand the objections many Tulsa County taxpayers have to the proposed $282 million River TAX, it is important to know a little Tulsa tax history.

My family moved to Tulsa in 1968 and I can still remember walking to the UTOTEM store as a boy to buy bubble gum with my allowance. If you spent less that a quarter, there was no tax because sales tax at that time was four cents on the dollar. A four per cent sales tax is what my father paid and Tulsa was one of America’s most beautiful cities. Now I’m the dad with three kids and I am paying 8.5 per cent. How did we arrive at this point where we are forced to pay twice the sales tax rate our parents paid?

Much of the blame can be attributed to the state of Oklahoma which increased our rate substantially when they swooped in to confiscate their share. Locally, well meaning bureaucrats, always with the best of intentions, convinced voters to raised taxes on themselves again and again with the familiar assurance, “Don’t worry, this tax will solve all our problems and it will only be temporary.” Unfortunately, our problems are still here and so are the “temporary” taxes.

Proponents of the River TAX have stated publicly that the average family earning $50,000 should expect to pay $100.00 per year for the next 7 years. We all know, however, that once the tax is imposed, it will never go away. Before it expires, another tax proposal will emerge to take its place and be sold with the claim that, since you are already paying the .4 percent, this is not a tax increase. We are already being told that the River TAX is simply the .4 per cent from Vision 2025 not collected because Boeing did not come to Tulsa. If this proposal is approved, our great grandchildren will still be paying the tax.

Perhaps the most egregious flaw with the River TAX proposal is the county-wide feature of its funding mechanism. Correctly pointed out by Broken Arrow Mayor Wade McCaleb is the danger that certain cities can raise taxes on other cities against their will. Under one scenario, this tax measure could fail in Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Collinsville, Glenpool, and Owasso yet pass in Tulsa, Jenks, and Sand Springs by a high enough margin to force the tax on everyone in Tulsa County. Imagine the outcry that would ensue if all the satellite cities teamed up and passed a county-wide tax that had no benefit in Tulsa. County-wide taxation allowing certain cities to usurp the sovereignty of other cities is a dangerous policy that should be rejected.

Proponents of the River Tax are not being realistic as they romanticize and glamorize the river. The waters of the Arkansas River are not blue as shown in their pretty pictures. My ten-year-old daughter recently described the water color as root beer. I jokingly told her we could call the proposed river rapids the Root Beer Float. The attraction of this brown, muddy river may be overstated.

I believe private investment should be the engine that drives river development in Tulsa. Infrastructure needs that require governmental involvement should be funded within the existing revenue stream without raising a new county-wide tax.
Needless to say, I will be voting NO River TAX!

Dan Hicks
828-9653

susan said:

Here is a sample of a bill of $26.33
Federal Tax 73 cents
Okla.State Tax One dollar ten cents
City Tax 85 cents
Tulsa County tax 25 cents
Total bill $29.26 (almost $3 tax)

On the Arkansas River Plan, there is "talk" of trying to get the people of Bixby to vote for the River Tax so they will get a low-water dam in addition to $3.4 million for Bentley Park, money to light and paint the Memorial bridge, and another $2 million for land acquisition. However former Mayor Joe Williams who is now a Bixby City Council member says he is concerned about Bixby not getting what the city is promised. He is concerned about Commissioner Randi Miller's use of the words, "if" there is money......

Bixby's City Council member, Joe Williams is also concerned about what Bixby would do if they passed a tax for the Arkansas river plan and then needed to try and pass a tax for something else that came up before it was paid off.

People don't want to be paying taxes toward something they won't be assured they will get from the tax vote.

There is no assurance that even if there is a low water dam that Bixby will not get flooded again is there? Does Randi Miller ever bring up that subject?

susan said:

The $2 million for land acquisition would be for the purpose of Bixby's sand plants to move south. The money for that land would be purchased and turned over to developers so they can make a huge profit.

I doubt many would miss the very ugly site of the sand plants and their dangerous hauling trucks that go in and out by the Memorial bridge.

With the Vision 2025, BOK got their name on the taxpayer funded downtown Arena, and the former Amoco at 4lst and Yale is now OU/"Shusterman" with their "donation" that just like the Kaiser money if they don't pass the tax vote, their money will go away somewhere else. If this vote passes, you know the Kaiser name will appear somewhere that could go to bringing that area along side the river something really unique -- somewhere high paying jobs on the cutting edge of IT computer development with business projects that the very best in IT workers would be drawn to "want" to work for instead of turning it over to developers for their own profit. Kaiser could spend his money wisely bringing in an addition to ROCKETPLANE that is currently at the University of Oklahoma at the Oklahoma Space Grant Consortium.

Mark and I personally got to see SPACESHIP ONE
and the brave pilot that made history in the Paul Allen amazing successful project. A wealthy investor got that plane to stop at his personal air hangar.

Couldn't George Kaiser just buy the sand plant property easily with all of his money, and do his own educational and business explosive cutting edge development instead of using the taxpayers of Tulsa County to push a vote that has not been well thought out?

susan said:

George Kaiser is chairman of BOK Financial Corporation. George Kaiser bought the Bank of Oklahoma, N.A. from the FDIC -- the government agency that guarantees the soundness of the nation's savings institutions. Since George Kaiser took over his parents oil drilling business, he expanded into real estate as well as banking. To say the least the George Kaiser Family Foundation could give more than $50 million instead having Randi Miller making citizens of Tulsa County feel as though his $50 million donation is "now or never" proposition of the October tax vote.

George Kaiser owns millions of shares of Bank of Oklahoma (BOK Financial)worth over $2 billion dollars.

He has the wealth to bring back high paying jobs from all of the I.T computer jobs that were lost in 2003. He could have purchased
that land the Tulsa "BOK" arena sits on and built the arena with his own money without the millions of dollars taxpayers are having to fund for the downtown arena. There is an investor/developer in Bixby that is said to be building his own type of arena in Bixby near 103rd and Memorial already successful real estate site.

Mayor Kathy Taylor won as Mayor of Tulsa because she spent outrageous amounts of money on her own campaign with the help of her wealthy husband funding it.

Does the rush for the October vote make sense?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 2, 2007 10:42 AM.

Why the hurry? was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa 1957: A porch swing on East 5th Place is the next entry in this blog.

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