Tulsa's 'Vision Plan' could be headed to a funding vote in September

Tuesday, April 22nd 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A tax package to help Tulsa move ahead is likely to go before voters this September. It would be the first bricks and mortar to come out of the vision plan.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the vision process started a year ago and there's some progress to report.

The mayor told me Tuesday morning he wants a vote in September or October on a $700 million plan that would include major developments along the river - including - possibly - an arena that's closer to the river than downtown. The vision process looks like a staring contest with the leadership team working through hours of presentations about the most promising ideas.

A 2-hour meeting Tuesday covered education. The universities want new buildings. Langston wants seed money for a new Tulsa campus. OU wants $30 million dollars to add a new medical research clinic at 41st and Yale. Ken Levit, OU Tulsa President: “We believe that through additional access, training, we think we'll bring $30 million dollars a year in new economic benefit - a billion dollars over 30 years.”

One idea was for an $8 million drop out prevention program the public schools believe would save more money than it would cost. Rick Palazzo, Tulsa Public Schools: “We live in a state where it costs $32k a year to keep someone in prison, that's the price tag for one teacher with benefits.” There are dozens of education ideas - and that's just one category of the vision process. The rest will be pared down over the next two months. The initial cut left 267 ideas with a total cost of $4.4 billion.

The final number of ideas hasn't been determined - but the cost has - about $700 million. Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune: “Yes a $700 million figure has been discussed.” Mayor LaFortune says $700 million will buy the essentials - and be big enough to have something for everyone. “We need a package that will be diverse, from higher Ed to common Ed and the fairgrounds, the river will be a focus of the package, things we know that will grow the economy.”

The leadership team has a mid June deadline to decide what's included in the package. The mayor wants a vote either September 9th or October 14th.

The mayor told me he believes development on the river will be the cornerstone of the package - with an arena - tied into the river as a major component.