Tulsa Metro Chamber Endorses Third Penny Sales Tax Extension

The Tulsa Metro Chamber has supported and endorsed the third penny sales tax since its inception more than 25 years ago. On May 9, Tulsans will be asked to vote on a $463.4 million extension for capital improvements. If approved by the voters, the city’s sales tax will not increase, but will continue to support the same penny in which consumers have long been accustomed.

The City Council agreed to extend the tax to complete the projects from the 2001 package that remained incomplete due to the economic downturn Tulsa experienced after the 9-11 attack. In addition to finishing the pending projects as planned, the extension package includes nearly $400 million in new projects.
This extension is expected to last approximately six and a half years – and unlike earlier extensions, there is no specific date set for the tax to expire. The expiration is tied to the amount of revenue collected – the tax expires when sufficient revenue is collected to fund the projects included in the list as detailed on the ballot.

The total amount of the package is $463.4 million, or $71.3 million for the pending projects, $389.6 million for the new projects and $2.6 million for interest and issuance costs. The plan is to sell revenue bonds at first so the remaining projects from the 2001 package will receive funding immediately. Funding for the new projects is available as revenue comes in from the sales tax.

One separate item to be voted on is $4.3 million to build new hangers for American Airlines to replace space lost.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the sales tax extension and funding the new hangers at the airport.
“This revenue source is a necessity to the economic vitality and quality of life within the City of Tulsa,” said Steve Turnbo, chairman of the board of directors and chairman and CEO of Schnake Turnbo Frank, Inc. “There is simply not adequate general fund revenue to address even the most critical capital needs. The City lists approximately $4 billion in unfunded capital needs on its long-term list and the third penny is vital to keeping up with infrastructure needs.”

The third penny package includes: funding for riverbank improvements; a museum at the 11th Street bridge related to the Route 66 plan; acquisition of deteriorating downtown property; Dirty Butter Creek floodplain acquisition; downtown streets and bridge rehabilitation, and a new north side soccer complex.

Furthermore, approximately $125 million is designated for expressways, streets, sidewalks and trails and $16 million for a new police forensics lab and evidence room.

Development projects along the Arkansas River include renovation of River West Festival Park, East riverbank improvements and trail resurfacing and widening.

Downtown projects include street rehabilitation, replacement of the Boulder Avenue bridge, directional signage, renovations to the Civic Center garage and funding to partner with the Tulsa Parking Authority to construct another downtown parking garage.

“The Chamber is working closely with City Councilors and Council candidates to plan a comprehensive campaign for passage of the extension,” said Turnbo. “As in past city issues, a Chamber-led steering committee will work to raise the funds to promote the extension and guide the campaign.”

For more information, contact Sharon Goswick at 560-0276 or email sharongoswick@tulsachamber.com. Seating is limited, so please respond as soon as possible.

Updated 04-26-2006

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