Vision2: The problems with Prop 2
One possible outcome of Tuesday's vote is the defeat of Proposition 1 and the passage of Proposition 2. Many voters hear about proposed projects and think, "what the heck."
There are plenty of reasons to turn down Prop 2. Here are just a few:
We're voting in 2012 on a tax that won't be collected until 2017. Only debt-laden advance-funded projects will be started before then. We don't know who will be president, what state the economy will be in, or what our greatest needs will be more than four years from now. We should wait until 2016 to make any decisions about a tax to replace the Vision 2025 tax that expires at the end of that year.
We're tying up revenue until the day before 2030. If Vision2 passes and a more urgent needs arises between now and then, we'll have to raise taxes to meet it.
The Vision2 Prop 2 tax can only be spent on capital improvements. Cities can use Vision2 money to build things, but not to maintain or operate them. If instead a city passed a city tax to replace Vision 2025, the city would have the flexibility to decide how best to allocate the money between building new stuff and fixing and maintaining what we already have. Remember that it was the cost of operating our swimming pools that led Mayor Bill LaFortune to shut most of them down.
Specific to Tulsa County's list of projects:
Tulsa County included the juvenile justice facility in the 2005 4 to Fix 2 package. They said they could meet that urgent need for $2.5 million. Instead they sat on it and are now asking for $38 million to build a brand new facility. They should do what they promised with the revenue we've already given them.
Tulsa County taxpayers have put tens of millions of dollars into Expo Square over the past decade. Now all the facilities are new or significantly modernized. Expo Square has just reached a very lucrative deal with the Creek Nation. It's time for Expo Square to use its operating revenue to fund the kind of minor improvements slated for Vision2.
Specific to the City of Tulsa's tentative list of projects:
The plan for spending the Vision2 money was thrown together haphazardly, based more on how many supporters showed up at the meetings than on the strategic impact of the proposed project.
Tulsa would have more money to spend and could spend more time developing a strategic plan to spend it if we vote down Vision2 and plan to vote in our own city tax to replace Vision 2025 when it expires at the end of 2016.
$5 million for Gilcrease Expressway is a token amount, not enough to accomplish any significant progress on a road that will cost around $800 million to complete as designed, but apparently just enough to buy the support of a few gullible politicians.
Tulsa Children's Museum may be a worthy cause, but it's a private organization, not a public entity. Why should money be taken from me by coercion to support a private organization? (Personally, I think better kid-friendly exhibits at existing museums would do more to get children excited about art, science, history, etc., than a separate museum that tries to cover all topics and does none of them well.)
Tulsa Library, TCC, OU, OSU, Langston -- all worthy institutions, but all of them already have their own sources of taxpayer dollars. The amount designated for each seems arbitrary, not linked to specific projects that need a certain amount to complete. Why divert money to them that could instead be used toward the City of Tulsa's own massive capital improvement backlog?
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