Council Approves 3rd Penny Extension

By Local Report    
Friday, 10 March 2006
In a continuation of Tuesday’s Special meeting, the Tulsa City Council today approved the 2006 third penny sales tax extension projects with a 6-2 vote, agreeing to place two sales tax questions on the May 9th ballot.

The Council voted to fund  $71.3 million in unfunded projects carried over from the 2001 sales tax extension program, and up to an additional $389.6 million for new projects for a grand total of $463.4 million. (The grand total includes $2.6 million interest and issuance costs.)

Mayor Bill LaFortune immediately signed the ordinance calling for a May 9 election. Voters will vote on two propositions. The first proposition calls for $459.1 million in capital improvements. Proposition 2 adds another $4.3 million in infrastructure improvements package for the Tulsa International Airport, increasing the total sales tax proposal to $463.4 million.

The third penny of the City’s sales tax has been dedicated to fund capital improvements since the 1980s, while the other two cents is used to fund maintenance and operations of city government. The third penny has made possible improvements such as arterial and residential street widening and rehabilitation, Tulsa Parks and the Gilcrease Museum, River Parks, public safety, flood control, economic, downtown and neighborhood development and repair and renovation of public facilities.

If approved by Tulsa voters, the proposed one cent sales tax extension would provide $63.9 million for public safety capital projects, including $32 million for police vehicles, replacement of the Police helicopter and a permanent home for the forensic laboratory and property room. The program would also include $19 million for the Fire Department and $9.4 million for telecommunications systems and equipment used for public safety programs. Emergency Medical Services would receive $3 million for capital equipment.

The largest portion of the package is public works and transportation totaling $202.2 million, including $125 million for streets, sidewalks and trails

The proposal also includes $16 million for development along the Arkansas River, including renovation of the River West Festival Park, East bank improvements between 11th and 21st streets and trails resurfacing and widening.

For downtown, councilors included $12 million for downtown streets, $4.8 million for the replacement of the Boulder Avenue Bridge, $2 million for directional signage, $4 million for renovations to the Civic Center parking garage and $5 million to participate with the Tulsa Parking Authority in the construction of another downtown parking garage.

The projects for the sales tax include $3 million for infrastructure to be built to stimulate private economic development and investment citywide and economic and neighborhood development would receive $24 million.

The projects for the 2006 sales tax extension were compiled based on projects included in the approved Capital Improvements Plan. The projects were prioritized and discussed with Mayor LaFortune, who also held four public town hall meetings with taxpayers to receive their feedback on needs and priorities. A list was generated following the meetings and proposed to the City Council. Councilors met with constituents in their districts and proposed changes and additions for a revised program.