The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

31 August 2005

Cents and sensibilities

In 1980, Tulsa voters first authorized a one-cent sales tax, over and above the existing two cents, to finance capital improvements in the city. The tax went into effect in 1981, and has been renewed by the voters every five years since.

It's not on the City of Tulsa Web site yet, but Tulsa Topics is reporting that this year, the protocols will be just a little different. Quoting from the city's press release:

Typically, the Mayor's staff selects projects that are already part of the City's capital improvement program, adopted by the City Council on an annual basis. The projects are selected based on the need, the benefit to the city and criteria related to the condition of the existing infrastructure or amenities. The staff presents the proposed projects to the City Council in public committee, and later joins with the Councilors to present the projects to the public in each of the nine Council districts. Citizens also have an opportunity to address the Council during a public hearing held when it considers the project list. The proposed package is then placed on a ballot for a public vote.

For the first time, based on Mayor LaFortune's initiative, the administration wants public input at the front end of the process, while the package is still in the draft stages. Mayor LaFortune said, "Citizens know best what their most important infrastructure needs are. I am inviting all citizens to the meetings to provide their input and to share my vision for the future of the City of Tulsa directly with them."

There will be five such meetings in September. This is, of course, a good idea — public input is better than no public input, at least if it's at all heeded — but given what's been happening in Tulsa in recent years, I have to wonder if maybe someone in the Mayor's office has figured out that a lot of Tulsans feel the city government is out to screw them over, and the city might well lose that third penny when it expires in July 2006.

(For comparison, the Oklahoma City sales tax is apportioned as follows: two cents, general expenditures; one cent, MAPS for Kids [expires 1/2009]; 0.75 cent, earmarked for public safety; 0.125 cent, Oklahoma City Zoo. Including the 4.5-cent state sales tax, this comes to 8.375 cents, unless you're in the part of the city that extends into Canadian County, which levies a 0.35-cent sales tax of its own. Tulsa County has a 1.017-cent sales tax; Oklahoma County has no sales tax.)

Posted at 6:16 AM to Soonerland