Leaders Consider Sales Tax Shift For Pothole Riddled Roads

Thursday, November 8th 2007, 5:37 pm
By: News On 6

Bumpy, pothole riddled streets have some City of Tulsa leaders wanting a sales tax shift. Some city leaders think it is worth exploring as the city looks to tap any available resource for money to fix the streets. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the state is trying to decide what to do with a surplus while the city is strapped for cash, and that has local politicians looking to Oklahoma City for a little help.

While downtown is a construction zone, Tulsa is way behind on improving most streets and every driver knows it. City Councilor John Eagleton says Tulsa is more than $500 million behind on repairs, more on construction and the sales tax to pay for it isn't keeping up.

"The revenue stream from that sales tax has trailed core inflation, our buying power every year is a little bit less each year," City Councilor John Eagleton said.

Eagleton wants the legislature to give the city a half cent of state sales tax. For Tulsa, that amounts to about $34 million a year that could be spent on streets.

The city currently spends between $25 and $30 million of sales taxes on road construction each year. Considering that widening a mile of road can cost $8 million, and building a new intersection can cost $5 million that money doesn't go very far."

In Tulsa, the sales tax is 8.5%. The city gets three cents out of that which is spent on a combination of daily services and capital improvements, like road construction. That budget is split further leaving just four-tenths of a cent for street construction work. By redirecting a half cent of state sales tax to the city the money available for regular street work would more than double.

"We are so far behind on street repair and build out, this will not cure the problem, it's one small part of fixing the problem," John Eagleton, Tulsa City Councilor said.

The Tulsa City Council votes Thursday night on a resolution in support of the effort to redirect that sales tax. The Oklahoma Municipal League is behind it, and since all cities are dealing with the same problem, they're hoping the legislature will take notice and give up the money.

Watch the video: Looking For Money To Fix The Streets