Tulsa County commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday to call an April 1 special election on two sales tax proposals to enlarge the Tulsa Jail and to build a new juvenile justice center. Why they would select April Fools Day to vote is still an open question.
The ballot resolutions ask voters to consider a 15-year, 0.041 percent sales tax to fund the juvenile justice center and a 15-year, 0.026 percent sales tax to fund the construction of additional pods at the Tulsa Jail.
According to quotes published by the Tulsa World, the three Commissioners were not unified in perspective on the questions.
“It has been my mission to build a new (juvenile justice) facility to bring better outcomes for our youth,” County Commissioner Karen Keith said. “This is in the best interest of the Tulsa County taxpayers and public safety.”
Before casting his vote, County Commissioner John Smaligo said he was not ready to support the initiatives but would agree to put them on the ballot. “I think the immediacy of the needs, especially at the jail, have basically forced my hand to at least allow the public to make a decision on this,” Smaligo said. The county commissioner has said previously that he couldn’t support a proposal to raise taxes.
Commissioner Ron Peters said he has spent the last five months looking for alternative funding methods. “I couldn’t find any,” Peters said.