Vision2: Tulsa better off going it alone

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A possible response to my earlier entry, Vision2 share vs. Tulsa County municipality population, is that it doesn't count the money in Proposition 1 to improve city-owned facilities and to provide "equipment and fixtures and other capital improvements" for businesses in the "Airport Industrial Complex" as part of Tulsa's share.

Even if that were a wise way to spend $254 million -- and it's not -- the City of Tulsa and its citizens would be far better off financially if the City opposed the Vision2 county tax and raised the city sales tax by the same amount.

There's precedent for the idea: Way back in 2008, when we were debating different approaches to fixing our streets, Councilor Bill Martinson proposed that the city take over county sales tax streams as they expired -- adding two-twelfths of a cent when the County's "4 to Fix the County, Part II" tax expired in 2011, and adding 0.6% when the County's Vision 2025 tax expired at the end of 2016. The overall sales tax would remain the same at 8.517%, but most of the county's share would be shifted to pay for city capital improvements that directly affect our quality of life. The plan ultimately adopted by the City Council and the voters captured the "4 to Fix" 2/12ths, but left the Vision 2025 tax untouched.

Over the last 12 months, the City of Tulsa has collected about $71 million per penny of sales tax revenue. Over 13 years at that level of sales tax collection, the 0.6% sales tax under discussion would generate $553.8 million in revenue for the City of Tulsa. Deduct the $254 million AA bailout from that number, and there'd still be almost $300 million that the City of Tulsa could spend on the priorities in its capital improvements process. Better still, that money would be spent under the tighter competitive bidding laws that apply to the city and the city's more transparent approach to picking projects for capital improvements sales tax packages, a process that has its roots in the Inhofe mayoralty and the original 3rd Penny.

So under the Vision2 plan adopted by the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners, the City of Tulsa would get a $400 million share -- if you count the American Airlines bailout in that amount. If instead the City of Tulsa adopted its own 0.6%, 13 year sales tax, the City of Tulsa would get $553.8 million. For the same overall sales tax level, City of Tulsa would be better off by $153.8 million, a nearly 40% increase in money available for capital improvements.

I can't imagine any rational, honest reason for any City of Tulsa official to go along with Tulsa County's sales tax scheme.

AND ANOTHER THING: Under the Tulsa County Vision2 scheme, the City of Tulsa has to get the County Commission's approval on how the city spends it's share of the Proposition 2 municipal pork barrel bribery fund.

Projects shall be identified by the governing body of each Political Subdivision following public hearing and input of public comment, in such form and process as determined by such governing body, and shall be submitted to the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma to determine whether the sales tax collected pursuant to this Resolution may be properly expended for such Project.

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Another race that will be decided in the August 28, 2012, runoff election is the race for Tulsa County Clerk. No Democrats filed for the open seat, and none of the three candidates received a majority in the June primary, so the runoff between the top ... Read More

1 Comments

Roy said:

Your post, Mike, has sufficient clarity to justify your comment "I can't imagine any rational, honest reason for any City of Tulsa official to go along with Tulsa County's sales tax scheme."

Indeed. And your next paragraph about having to submit to an outside review how Tulsa taxes get spent, provides another, independently sufficient reason to oppose the plan.

I know folks make mistakes in planning projects. BDG (been there, done that, got the T-shirt). So even tho I expect experienced planners to make fewer mistakes, especially of the obvious sort, I don't reflexively fault mistakes. But such blatant mistakes as you've cited makes me ponder the power of pork.

Depending on one's view of government, which includes the integrity with which one spends others' money, I can imagine a rational, honest reason that city officials will go along with the scheme.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 17, 2012 10:06 PM.

Greek pronunciation over the millennia was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa County GOP opposes Vision2, censures Smaligo, Perry is the next entry in this blog.

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