Vision2 bond package will be on November ballot

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Reported by: Ian Silver
Updated: 8/13/2012 2:59 pm Published: 8/09/2012 5:34 pm

On Monday, the Tulsa County Commission voted in favor of putting a $747.9 bond vote on the November ballot.

Tulsa County and city leaders have big plans to bring in big business, with a new vision for the future similar to the Vision2025 bond package.

With most of the 32 projects from the $885 million Vision2025 package voters approved in 2003 complete or almost complete, Vision2 is designed to keep Tulsa County moving forward.

Vision2 is a $747.9 million 13-year extension to the Vision2025 package. The main goal of Vision2 is to maintain jobs currently in the Tulsa area and attract new businesses and jobs to the area.

Roughly $386 million of Vision2 would be designated for economic development, including about $250 million going for facility upgrades and improvements at Tulsa International Airport, and $50 million in "deal-closing" incentives to new businesses considering moving into the area.

The other $361.9 million would be designated for quality of life improvements in the 10 cities and towns in Tulsa County. The county itself would also get a portion of the money. Those funds would be divided based on population.

But there are concerns about the economic development portion of the package. In the Vision2025 package $22.3 million was used on facility upgrades and improvements at the American Airlines maintenance base at TIA. Now that American Airlines plans to lay off more than 1,000 workers, that investment is now viewed as a bust. That has many wondering if the Vision2 plans are risky gamble with tax dollars.

"I work downtown and I think it's been great...for the downtown area for sure, you know, with the BOK being built," David Stewart, a Broken Arrow resident and Vision2 supporter, said.

Stewart was a big fan of Vision2025. He thinks most of it gave the area a huge return on investment. The exception, of course, being the seemingly wasted American Airlines facility improvement funds. However, he's willing to forget that backfired project.

"You can't hit 1,000 every time," Stewart said.

Stewart is still ready to throw hundreds of millions of dollars into improvements for other buildings and facilities at the airport.

Vision2 campaign co-chairman Don Walker said the improvements are badly needed.

"Those facilities were built during World War Two," Walker said. "So they're 70 years old. They're in terrible condition."

Walker admits the American Airlines improvement funds ended up being a disappointment, but he says the Vision2 investment is absolutely necessary for Tulsa to compete with other cities.

"If we don't do it today someone else will attract those employees, those industries, those aerospace jobs to another community," he said.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the Vision2 package is about maintaining Tulsa's standing as the premier aerospace industry leader.

"We want to make certain that our airport has the ability to service and maintain any airplane that flies in any airline in this world," Bartlett said. "And we want them to come to Tulsa."

Stewart agrees on the importance of maintaining the aerospace industry in Tulsa and attracting more jobs to the area. He says despite there being no guarantee a bigger investment in aerospace jobs will work out better than the $22.3 million for American Airlines in Vision2025, he still thinks the potential payoff is big enough that the Tulsa area needs to take the gamble.

"Not everything pans out, but I think for the most part it has, and still may in the future," he said.

Vision2 would simply extend the 0.6 percent sales tax from Vision2025, which is set to expire at the end of 2016, until the end of 2029. No new taxes would be created under the proposal.

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

aleman - 8/13/2012 4:38 PM
1 Vote
All go to downtown for the winos, perverts, and prostitutes.Stupid city gov't there is more to Tulsa than downtown and the stupid river walk.We are the absolute laughing stock of the world,runaway violent crime,meth capital of America,streets worse than some third world city and we spend billions for winos to have a place to lay around.Give it up old money downtown will never,never be like it was in the 1940's,downtown has had it,you can keep it on life support so long until you bleed the taxpayer dry,do something about the crime...fix the damn streets or we are going to have to look at a different gene pool for our city leaders and fire these neanderthals.

bowlerdave - 8/10/2012 8:38 AM
1 Vote
Tell you what, when I get to have at least one meal a day, I'll talk about taxes. Until then, no.

watchdog11 - 8/9/2012 11:15 PM
1 Vote
Nothing will bring business to Tulsa as long as our crime rate is through the roof, they can lie and say crime is down all they want, but the people who live her know the truth, and so does anyone who takes the time to check the news in Tulsa. What a bunch of ignorant city leaders we have, lets give American Airlines money again, what has it been, like 6 years since we bailed them out the last time? Anything but fix the crime and gang, drug and violence, I will shop elsewhere rather than pay taxes in Tulsa to fund this kind of foolish endeavor, fix the damn crime first, and business will come, otherwise you are just wasting taxpayers money. Idiots!

bravo619 - 8/9/2012 10:20 PM
2 Votes
yeah it'll bring business like the 2025 and fix our streets tax fixed our streets! total bullshit!
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