Tulsa County Commission Puts Vision 2 Proposal On November Ballot

Monday, August 13th 2012, 7:56 am
By: Emory Bryan

The Tulsa County Commissioners approved a motion Monday, putting the proposed Vision 2 plan on November's ballot.

The extension of the Vision 2025 sales tax, which was passed by Tulsa County voters in 2003, will be decided by voters on the same day as the Presidential election.

The sales tax of Vision 2025 doesn't expire for five years, but it could be extended by voters.

That would let Tulsa County borrow around $700 million, take care of a lot of projects now, and pay the money back over time.

8/9/2012 Related Story: Tulsa Leaders Announce New 'Vision' Effort For City

County Commissioners said they're satisfied the needs are urgent, and the only way to pay for it without a tax increase is to extend Vision 2025.

About half of Vision 2 is a renovation of industrial space at the airport, where American Airlines and the International bus plant are two of the big tenants.

Spirit Aerosystems is the other, and each building needs major repairs and expansions, according to the architects of Vision 2.

Don Walker, Arvest Bank: "Aerospace jobs are so important to Tulsa County that we think this is the right thing for citizens to do to support the improvement of facilities of the airport, to keep these jobs in Tulsa County," said Don Walker, of Arvest Bank.

County Commissioners heard from only one opponent, representing Tea Party-affiliated taxpayer groups.

"When do we quit bailing everyone out? It has to stop somewhere. If this has to be done, find the money somewhere else. Quit coming to the taxpayer with your hand out asking for more money," said opponent Ronda Vuillemont-Smith.

Karen Keith, Tulsa County Commissioner said, "First and foremost is a juvenile center, and we have $38 million allocated for that."

County Commissioners have a list of projects, but didn't vote to finalize it so they can get more public input.

Each city in the county will get something, and that list is being drafted by each government.

"What you're going to have over the next few weeks is a debate over what projects people would like to see in their respective communities," said County Commissioner John Smaligo.

The river is likely to get a lot of attention, as the county and cities along the Arkansas River push to speed up development and build on what was started with Vision 2025.

About $250 million would go into repairs and equipment at the airport, where 11,000 people work in buildings that belong to the city.

Vision 2 supporters say without updates, those jobs would likely end up elsewhere. With improvements, it's possible more jobs will come here.