11 December 2002
The thin blue line
Actually, it's not so thin; it's about a foot and a half wide, and due to get wider. The city of Bethany, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, stung by declining sales-tax revenues, has decided to remind its 21,000 residents just where they live by drawing lines across the pavement at the city limits. (Why blue? They match the street signs.)
Bethany's tax base has been eroding for some time, since there is little or no space for new industry or greatly-expanded retail facilities; it's mostly a sleepy college town, anchored by the somnolent Southern Nazarene University. And matters are not helped by the fact that Bethany is completely surrounded, by Oklahoma City on three sides and on the fourth by Warr Acres, which is happy to wave its 6.5 percent combined sales-tax rate in Bethany's face. (It's 8 percent in Bethany, and 8.375 in Oklahoma City.)
Not that Bethany is doomed. With airline travel stagnating, more people are hitting the road, and one of the roads they like to hit is historic Route 66, two miles of which pass through the center of Bethany. The main thing Bethany has to do is make sure those two miles look less squalid than the segment to the immediate east, which runs through Warr Acres. Somehow this doesn't strike me as particularly difficult.