Tulsa Councilors Approve Largest Tax Proposal

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Updated: 8/22/2013 8:32 pm Published: 8/22/2013 8:19 pm

Tulsa City councilors unanimously approved a compromise in their capital improvements package Thursday night.

The compromise consists of the City of Tulsa altering its sales tax proposal from 1.167% to 1.1%.  The removal of .067% would allow Tulsa County to propose a capital improvements package for juvenile and criminal justice facilities at a later date. 

The proposal would retain all projects, but would extend the length of time for the city’s 1.1 percent sales tax collections by five to six months in order to make up for the loss of .067 cents and fund all projects included in the package.

While noting that the agreement is not perfect, Councilor GT Bynum said it is consistent with a good compromise that achieves the capital needs of the city and county.

"When you have public servants who passionately believe in the work they are doing, balancing competing priorities can often be difficult. I am thankful my colleagues at the City of Tulsa and our counterparts at Tulsa County were able to see the bigger picture in this instance and move ahead united behind public improvements which will better serve our friends and neighbors who live in this community without raising their taxes," said Councilor G.T. Bynum.

Bartlett said the agreement gives both the County and the City the opportunity to achieve their capital needs without having to increase taxes.

"I have maintained that an agreement with Tulsa County could be reached if leaders came together and put the citizens first," Bartlett said. "We have worked diligently and quickly over the last few weeks to make that happen before tonight's vote.  We lowered our rates at the city in order to preserve county options and better serve the taxpayers."

Commissioners Karen Keith and Ron Peters, as well as Sheriff Glanz, are pleased with the results of the compromise and believe it is a good faith effort on behalf of the city to recognize the capital needs of both the city and county.

"I want to thank Mayor Bartlett for his leadership and commitment to a strong city/county relationship.  He, Councilor G.T. Bynum and several members of the city council were diligent in working toward a resolution of this issue.  This is a positive step forward in addressing the capital needs of both the city and Tulsa County," said Commissioner Karen Keith.

"The proper role for government officials at all levels is to do what is best for the people they represent.  I believe in this case we did the best and most responsible thing for the citizens of Tulsa and Tulsa County," said Commissioner Ron Peters.

Councilor Phil Lakin said the program will retain the important City projects that citizens have said they want.

"I'm really pleased with the package that this Council has worked so hard to put before Tulsans.  Over the last 9 months, we have held 47 public meetings, met with every City department, and prioritized only our most critical capital needs -- with the very highest emphasis on streets and transportation -- to sustain and build our great city for the next five years.

Sheriff Stanley Glanz said, "We're going to suspend our petition and look to collaborate with the cities in Tulsa County to fund our essential public safety needs including those in the juvenile, criminal and mental health arena."

County officials could put the permanent 0.067-cent tax on a April ballot. The money would build extra Tulsa Jail pods and improve the juvenile justice center.

If approved, sales tax would stay the same in Tulsa and go up in cities outside the city.

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