The City of Tulsa is considering an alternative plan to pay for river development. A Tulsa City Councilor says the river can be developed without a tax increase, but supporters of the new river plan say that would delay it by years, and cost taxpayers much more. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports the chair of the County Commission says that's why using Vision money to do river development won't work, it would delay the projects.
"We can develop the river without raising taxes," said Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton.
Tulsa Councilor John Eagleton believes to pay for river development the county should extend the Vision Tax instead of raising the sales tax.
"And we will not hamstring our economy by taxing retail," Eagleton said.
The current river development plan is projected to cost $393 million. One hundred and eleven million dollars of that total has been pledged by private donors. Chet Cadieux of QuikTrip, one of the donors, said the offers of private money might not hold if the plan is delayed any longer.
"It would be a real shame if we missed the opportunity to use $100 million of privately donated money to help pay for it, I would think the taxpayers would like a gift like that," said Chet Cadieux of QuikTrip.
Eagleton agrees with his critics that using Vision money would delay the start of river development, but says not by enough to make it worth adding to the sales tax rate.
County Commission Chair Randi Miller says adding to the sales tax is the most reliable and fastest way to finally execute the plans made for the river. If the river tax passes, she says construction, both public and private, would start within months.
"There has always been people who oppose it and come up with another plan, and that's why we never had anything done," said Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller. "This is the moment, the first time we've had $111 million in private funds, that won't be there in eight years."
Despite Eagleton's proposal the County Commissioners plan to call for a vote on the sales tax increase. They'll do that next week, with the vote planned for October.