Bixby Has Its Own Vision

Commentary by RON BUSSERT
Bixby Metro Chamber Board Chair

Bixby is an outstanding community. Arguably, Bixby has the best school district in the state. There are plenty of nice neighborhoods and churches. It’s the home of the Green Corn and the Barbecue & Blues Festivals. In the past few years, Bixby has become a destination for baseball and soccer tournaments at Bentley Park. But things aren’t perfect and without a vision/plan for the future, Bixby may well be a city with many new neighborhoods but not enough municipal resources for public safety and the ability to maintain our beautiful parks system. Finally, except for some efforts to repopulate the historic downtown area, Bixby’s downtown continues to remain sorely lacking in revitalization.

Fortunately, our Mayor and the City Council has planned for and proposed a futuristic vision for Bixby to increase firefighters and police officers, maintain our parks, and provide the needed infrastructure for river and downtown redevelopment. So, in summary, here are the proposals that will be on the ballot on Nov. 10.

Sales tax revenues to fund river/downtown corridor development. Most notably, the plan is to capture water in the Arkansas River in Bixby to encourage public and private development. These three-tenths of a penny will be collected for 20 years and is estimated to yield $20 million.

Sales tax revenues for an estimated four additional fire fighters, four police officers, and four other city employees. This one-fourth of a penny tax is estimated to yield $704,000 per year and will stay in effect indefinitely to fund these important positions. Remember, this tax can be repealed or modified at any time by a proposal from the council and a vote of the people.

The river/downtown corridor development and the public safety and other city employees will be funded at no additional sales tax. These revenues will come from the re-purposing of the Vision 2025 sales tax which benefited the whole county, but going forward will be used solely in Bixby. So, Bixby citizens will see no increases in the current level of sales tax for these proposals.

Since 2006, Bixby citizens had approved the collection of one-half of a penny for capital improvements for park debt retirement and park maintenance, with revenues split evenly. Now the need is greater for maintenance. So, this proposal will reallocate this one-half of a penny so that four-fifths of the one-half penny will be for maintenance and one fifth will be for capital needs.

This proposal extends the park related tax (see 3. above) indefinitely which will eliminate continued need to subsidize park maintenance from the City General Fund. Indefinite does not mean permanent. With a council proposal, voters can repeal or modify as appropriate in the future as priorities and needs change.

The park related proposals will better use the sales tax for already existing parks and ensure the parks are maintained in future years. And, Bixby citizens will see no increases in the current level of sales tax for these proposals.

Bixby has a chance on Nov. 10 to provide for development of the river and downtown, which will yield more sales tax collections in Bixby. We can ensure sales tax revenues to increase our number of public safety employees and maintain the beautiful parks that provide for Bixby citizens and attract visitors to our community. Let’s not continue to grow only into a community of neighborhoods, lacking the funding to provide an adequate number of police and firefighters, while our parks begin to deteriorate. Instead, let’s adopt a vision of Bixby that attracts new businesses, shoppers, and visitors while we grow.

Vote Yes on Nov. 10 for Bixby’s Vision of growth, public safety, and quality of life! All of this for a total of one and five one-hundredths of a penny per dollar in sales tax we are already paying. A vote will not change the amount of sales tax paid in the City of Bixby but will greatly enhance the future of our community!

Ron Bussert is the 2016 Bixby Metro Chamber Board Chair.

Updated 11-07-2015

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