Bond issues today: Broken Arrow schools, Cities of Owasso and Jenks

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IVoted.jpgVoters in two Tulsa County municipalities and a school district will go to the polls today to vote on general obligation bond issues. General obligation bond issues are funded by a property tax increase -- the millage (tax rate) goes up by enough to cover debt service on the bonds. (It may be that other bonds are expiring so that the overall millage for the jurisdiction doesn't increase, but in any event, the tax rate will be higher if the bond issue passes than if it doesn't.)

Owasso voters have three bond issues to consider, Jenks and Broken Arrow have one each, but Broken Arrow's single bond issue overshadows the other three combined. Links go to sample ballots on the Tulsa County Election Board website; words are from the ballot title:

City of Owasso Proposition No. 1: $11,000,000 "to provide funds for the purpose of acquiring, constructing, and improving youth sports facilities, all to be owned exclusively by the city."

City of Owasso Proposition No. 2: $5,000,000 "to provide funds for the purpose of constructing street improvements, to include sidewalks, curb and drainage improvements, and other related improvements."

City of Owasso Proposition No. 3: $9,000,000 "for the purpose of economic and community development in the City of Owasso, Oklahoma, to include (I) improvements to the following existing city parks: Elm Creek Park, Centennial Park, Rayola Park, Ator Park, Funtastic Park, and McCarty Park, (II) the construction and equipping of an aquatic center to be located at a site to be determined, and (III) the acquisition of land and the construction of a festival park at a site to be determined."

City of Jenks Proposition: $3,515,000 "to provide funds for the purpose of constructing, remodeling, equipping and improving public safety facilities and equipment to be owned exclusively by said city."

Broken Arrow Public Schools, Independent School District No. 3: $73,500,000 "to provide funds for the purpose of constructing, equipping, repairing and remodeling school buildings, acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment and acquiring and improving school sites."

The Broken Arrow school bond issue, according to school officials, is a reallocation of $73.5 million from 2009's $295 million bond issue and doesn't represent additional indebtedness or a higher millage rate. Here is a detailed list of which projects lose or gain money in the reallocation. The decision to close two elementary schools -- Indian Springs and Arrow Springs -- is controversial.

Don't forget that the Broken Arrow school district includes a small section of the City of Tulsa, south of 31st St and east of 145th East Ave.

In Owasso, some residents question the usefulness of the proposed park and recreation projects, some wish that more of the money was going to street improvements for Oklahoma's fastest growing city, some wish the proposal would be funded with sales tax, some of which is paid by shoppers visiting Owasso from elsewhere. The Owasso Taxpayer Alliance opposes the three propositions, arguing instead for the use of projected excess funds from an existing sales tax. (The Owasso Taxpayer Alliance also has posted the text of the ballot resolutions -- Propositions 1 and 2, Proposition 3 -- which control how the money will be spent.)

In Jenks, $1.9 million of the bond issue will pay for new fire and rescue equipment, while the remainder would fund the renovation of the public safety building as police headquarters. This is something of a repeat of a failed funding package from 2010, but this time the funding is all property tax, rather than property tax combined with a permanent 3/4 cent sales tax.

Opponents of the tax hike point out that Jenks residents already bear a very high combined sales and property tax burden. Brian Waddell writes:

I have been a resident of Jenks for over 20 years and am dismayed with the direction the city is taking. The property tax rate for the city of Jenks is the highest in the county and is higher than the average of most of the surrounding states. According to the County Assessor, the per person tax burden (includes sales taxes) for Jenks residents is also the highest in the county.

And now I see the Jenks school will also be asking for more in property taxes to meet their needs. Is there no limit to our local government needs? It appears not.

It's been said that Jenks residents should pay their fair share. Well, it looks to me that we are.

Given the sorry state of the economy, now is not the time to raise taxes of any kind.

Our local government officials should look at their own budget first and make cuts however difficult to save the money for their capital needs. A 2.5% cut in their budget would generate $700,000 per year. In 5 years they could have their equipment, office space and state of the art training center without increasing property taxes one dime.

Jenks should reduce the size of its government, reduce taxes and watch the businesses and consumers flock to this side of the river.

I am voting NO on the bond election. It's your money no matter how little they are saying it's going to cost you. Who will move to Jenks when it has the highest property tax rates in the state? Put that on your Chamber brochure.

(Posted at 12:00 a.m. on 2011/10/11, postdated to 7 p.m. to remain at the top throughout election day.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 11, 2011 7:00 PM.

From the 2011 Oklahoma State Fiddling Championship was the previous entry in this blog.

Jenks and Owasso voters give higher taxes thumbs-down is the next entry in this blog.

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