3rd Penny Sales Tax

Friday, March 16th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's city council sweeps controversy aside, and cleans up the Main Mall mess it created with a walkout last week. Three councilors left last week's meeting to prevent their colleagues from killing a controversial Main Mall renovation plan.

Thursday night, the plan's alive and the council dispute appears to be over. KOTV's Donn Robertson was at the meeting and says what a difference a week makes. Thursday, the council voted unanimously to keep the Main Mall as one of about 200 projects in the third penny sales tax proposal. The council was so divided last week over the downtown Main Mall project; three councilors walked out, making it so the council couldn't vote on the third penny sales tax proposal.

Councilor Sam Roop made the first and only statement to those whom walked out. "I hope you all have looked under your seats and found the seatbelts that are under there." Seven Tulsans addressed the council saying renovating the Main Mall and reopening it to traffic should not be included in the third penny sales tax proposal, but should stand alone on a ballot by itself. Resident Troy Williams, "we should put that on a separate package and let the city of Tulsa decide from there." Councilor Roscoe Turner agreed, but his motion to let voters decide the Main Mall controversy failed. Other councilors decided it was time for them to stop the infighting that led to last week's walkout and come up with something everyone could agree on.

Councilor Clay Bird, "I think we either have to take it off or leave it on, but I do think we need to keep it all in one package." It was councilor Todd Huston who came up with a breakthrough. Unlike the original plan, the new idea Huston pushed would preserve historic Bartlett Square. It would also replace the Mall's worn out fountain and close the Mall to cars during lunchtime. After some discussion, councilors unanimously approved the Mall restructuring and the third penny sales tax proposal.

Councilor Huston, "The division you saw on this council was not because we have different personalities. It was because we were out there presenting different views of the public." Councilor Roop, "You may have thought it was a nervous fit that we had. But what you saw was American democracy in action." Councilor Huston says he was finally able to win consensus on the Main Mall by talking to a lot of people with different opinions on the project.

Voters will go to the polls on the third penny sales tax May 8th.