The battle over the Arkansas River tax is heating up. Supporters want a 4/10ths of a cent sales tax that would raise $282 million over seven years for river development. On Thursday, opponents of the tax hike kicked off their grass roots campaign against the measure. They say they don't like the proposed tax increase for several reasons. Some say taxpayers are overburdened already, while others say they don't like a county tax to pay for a municipal project. News On 6 anchor Craig Day reports all are united in their opposition, and promise a spirited campaign.
At a news conference Thursday, a group made up of several city, county and state leaders voiced their opposition to the Arkansas River tax increase before voters in October.
"Enough is enough," said State Senator Randy Brogdon of Owasso. "We need to make sure we hold the politicians responsible."
Private groups have pledged $117 million to the project. On October 9th Tulsa County voters will decide on a 4/10ths of a cent sales tax increase to raise the remaining $282 million. The money will pay for more low water dams, pedestrian bridges, and open the door for commercial development along the river.
Many opponents of the countywide sales tax increase say they're in favor of river development along the Arkansas River, but they just don't think a countywide sales tax is the best or only way to do it.
"I fully bless the river getting developed, but not at the expense of every taxpayer paying more taxes," Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel said.
Opponents say development can occur without a tax increase.
"This tax is offensive because it is unnecessary. There is a sufficient reservoir of money derived from the Vision 2025 income stream to pay for the vast majority of the projects proposed by the county commissioners," said Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton.
Other opponents believe development along the river can be done through private investment.
"For some reason or another, we have decided now over the past ten or 15 years, without the government's help, we can't have economic development," Brogdon said. "I just disagree with that."
Supporters of the tax hike have launched an advertising campaign to get their message out. Opponents say they'll use a grassroots effort to get their point of view across using the internet, flyers, signs and by going door to door.