Thwart analysis

The guys opposed to the MAPS 3 package left a card on my front door, which I duly read. Never let it be said I pass up free blogfodder, especially when it invites high levels of snark.

The opening paragraph seems sane enough:

At a time when money is tight, taxes need to pay for public safety and infrastructure improvement, not another convention center, 70-acre central park and other projects that will cost over ¾ of a billion dollars.

The dollar figure, I suppose, is intended to intimidate us with its sheer size, and after all, they’ll be collecting this tax — the same tax they’re already collecting for something else — for seven years and nine months. And I concede, $777 million is a fair chunk of change. Then again, the city’s budget for FY 2009-10 is just this side of $840 million, a number even scarier, and in a far shorter period of time yet.

It would also be nice if you didn’t notice that MAPS funds have never been spent on the essentials: the whole idea, ever since Ron Norick came up with the premise back in the Bad Old Days, was to fund stuff that was never going to be covered in the budget, without jeopardizing the occasional bond issues by massively increasing the city’s debt load. Since the city’s credit rating is solid, they presumably were at least somewhat successful.

Since providers of infrastructure are not mentioned among the opponents, and the police and firefighter organizations are, it’s hard not to conclude that the opposition is based simply on “Where’s ours?” This is a legitimate political position, but it’s not one I’m likely to find persuasive.

And farther down the page, Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters mumbles the following:

“There is growing support against this MAPS proposal.”

Even if you’re susceptible to the Bandwagon Effect, which I’m not, you might be tempted to chuckle at Walters’ mangled syntax. You want “support against,” you’re looking at something like a bridge abutment. Maybe this is what they mean by “infrastructure.”


  1. McGehee »

    22 November 2009 · 11:00 am

    There are certainly arguments that could be made, if one were so inclined and were qualified (by virtue of, say, residency) to state them, for turning down a bond issue for so-called non-essentials, during, let’s say, a recession. Then again, as you’ve observed a few times lately OKC doesn’t seem to be hurting as badly as other parts of the country.

  2. CGHill »

    22 November 2009 · 11:37 am

    The city has been loath to add new positions of late, lest the budget be busted; this fact has complicated the often-uneasy relationship between the city and the public-safety organizations, which argue, reasonably enough, that city growth requires at least some new personnel.

    Really, though, I think the opposition should have tried to sell it as a tax cut: once the already-approved stuff finishes its run, the additional penny of sales tax will perforce expire. I don’t think they really wanted to do that, though: suppose the electorate actually likes lower taxes?

    In general, I approve of this sort of thing if it’s done at the right level. These are city projects; they’re paid for by people in the city, and by the occasional suburbanite who comes into town to shop. No county, state or Federal funds are required. Voters in the city must approve the imposition of any city-level sales tax. (The state imposes a flat 4.5 percent; cities and counties may approve taxes of their own. Current OKC sales-tax totals 8.375 percent; the current MAPS-y tax, now upgrading the Ford Center to NBA-competitive levels, expires March 31, 2010. The new package would continue that tax through the end of 2017. The original MAPS tax began in January 1994, so it’s not like we’ve had to adjust.)

  3. Cindy »

    23 November 2009 · 10:00 am

    I’ve seen more and more of the “vote no” signs springing up in various places, but I have yet to hear a compelling argument against it (beyond the “I want my penny back” point that I haven’t actually heard anyone use). The whole thing seems rather odd and I’ll definitely be voting for MAPS3 because the other side of the coin doesn’t really appeal to me.

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