Officials: Recovery From Sales Tax Defeat Could Take Years
Wednesday, October 10th 2007, 2:40 pm
By: News On 6
TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ It could take several more years before Tulsa County voters see another plan to develop prime land around the Arkansas River, while economic opportunities continue to slip away from the area, officials said Wednesday. On Tuesday, voters defeated a countywide sales tax increase proposal that supporters said would have raised $282 million for river development.
Supporters said it was a rare opportunity to turn the river into a crown jewel of northeastern Oklahoma. Opponents, including several city officials, said the tax was too burdensome, and wanted streets, bridges and sidewalks repaired first.
With a ``no'' vote, the city also lost a chance at landing a major development on the river's west bank and at least $117 million pledged by the private sector for river improvements, such as fountains and better public restrooms. Both were contingent on the passage of the 4/10ths of a cent tax increase that would have paid for low-water dams, land acquisition, pedestrian bridges and habitat improvements along 42 miles of the river from Keystone Dam to the city of Jenks.
``A lot of towns would kill for that amenity,'' said Rick Huffman, chief executive officer of HCW Development Co., which announced plans for a 700,000-square-foot project on the west bank of the Arkansas River contingent on a ``yes'' vote.
``To just let it sit there and be undeveloped and give it back to the next generation of citizens _ people need to think not about themselves, but about their kids, and their kids' kids.''
Huffman's group also developed the Branson Landing project in Missouri, a popular waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment destination.
For supporters, Tuesday's ``no'' vote meant another missed development opportunity for Tulsa, while other cities such as Memphis, Tennessee, San Antonio and Kansas City, Missouri, continue to profit from their waterfront projects.
Oklahoma City voters also recognized the potential years ago, approving an initiative that turned an aging warehouse district into Bricktown, the city's nightlife and entertainment hub, complete with a mile-long pedestrian canal.
``It's a missed opportunity for Tulsa County,'' Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller said. ``Now this will go on the shelf and we will have to wait until the time the area changes, and maybe the young people who are in their 20s, when they're our age, they'll try it again.''
But tax opponents, including Broken Arrow Mayor Wade McCaleb, said the vote failed in his community because voters saw millions of their tax dollars ``going to pay for projects in other cities.'' He also said smaller cities in the county were not included enough in early discussions about the merits and shortcomings of the tax. Voters in his community sunk the proposal by about a 2-to-1 margin.
``The lesson they learned last night is you cannot take a countywide ballot and not have everyone at the table to discuss it,'' he said.
Tulsa City Councilman Roscoe Turner, who opposed the tax because he wanted the city's aging infrastructure to be fixed first, called the argument that it might take years to bring a similar project back to the area ``rhetoric.''
``That's the story they always use if they want to get something,'' Turner said. ``It happens when people want it to happen.''
2/9/2007 Record Donation Aids Expansion Of River Parks Trail
6/20/2007 River Development Plans
6/21/2007 New Plans For Arkansas River Development
7/17/2007 River Development Reaches Another Landmark
7/18/2007 River Developments Hinges On Vote Of The People
7/18/2007 Arkansas River Development Plan Announced
7/19/2007 Campaign Planned To Push River Development
7/20/2007 River Development Plan Similar To One Already Passed
7/26/2007 City Councilor Has A New Plan To Pay For River Development
7/29/2007 Explaining Development Along The Arkansas River
7/30/2007 River Tax Debate Continues
7/31/2007 River Plan Not Popular With Tulsa County Residents
7/31/2007 River Plan Reactions
8/9/2007 River Development Plans Move Ahead
8/21/2007 River Tax Groups Turn To The Internet For Support
8/22/2007 Republican Group Against Arkansas River Tax
9/4/2007 Our River Yes Kicks Off River Development Campaign
9/5/2007 People For And Against River Tax Begin Campaigns
9/6/2007 Groups Battling For Votes On Arkansas River Tax
9/8/2007 North Tulsa Residents Rally Against River Tax
9/9/2007 River Tax Supporters Face Upstream Battle
9/13/2007 Rock The River Looks For Your Vote With Entertainment
9/16/2007 More People Getting Behind River Tax Plan
9/19/2007 Students Debate River Tax Plan
9/19/2007 City Takes A Stand Against River Tax
9/20/2007 River Development Swing Vote
9/20/2007 QT Unveils Its Plans For The River
9/21/2007 From Dry River Bed To Lakeside Community
9/23/2007 'Run For Our River' Set for October 7th
9/24/2007 Rally Held Against River Tax Proposal
9/25/2007 River Tax Supporters Reach Out To North Tulsa Community
9/26/2007 River Opponents Given New Incentive To Pass River Tax
9/27/2007 Whoâ€™s Donating To River Development?
9/30/2007 After Decades Of Wait And See, River's Future At Crossroads
9/30/2007 Will River Development Hurt Jenksâ€™ River Businesses?
10/1/2007 Community Will Decide City And County Sales Taxes In Same Election
10/2/2007 River Tax Forum Held
10/4/2007 EXCLUSIVE: George Kaiser Talks About The River Tax Proposal
10/4/2007 Street Construction Money Dispute
10/4/2007 River Development Plans Hinge On River Tax Vote
10/5/2007 River Tax Package Includes A Rebate
10/5/2007 Archaeological Finds Along The Arkansas River
10/5/2007 Where Will The River Tax Money Go?
10/6/2007 Oklahoma Poll Shows A Split 'River Tax' Vote
10/7/2007 Final Push For River Tax
10/7/2007 Last Minute River Push
10/8/2007 City Against River Tax Claims Supporters Are Misleading Their Voters
10/9/2007 Voters Say No To River Tax