3rd penny sales tax future

Saturday, March 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa City councilors are at a standstill when it comes to one part of the 3rd penny sales tax package. The issue is whether to fund downtown's Main mall renovation with the tax money.

Those who want to include it walked out of a city council meeting Thursday night. They didn't have everyone they needed to win the vote, so by walking out, they blocked it. But KOTV's Tami Marler says there's much more to the 3rd penny sales tax package than the Main Mall. For decades, it's been the center of downtown Tulsa, and now it's the center of a political controversy.

Roscoe Turner, City Councilor says, "let's put it this way, originally when it came up, it was $6 million. There weren't very many 6 million projects on the table." Even though the total cost of adding a street to the Main Mall has been lowered to $4 1/2-million, it's still a sore spot for some city councilors. Todd Houston, City Councilor: "There's only so much money and there's so many projects. And we really have to look at the priorities." But many don't even know what those priorities are, or where the money will go.

Many people believe that the 3rd penny sales tax is all about improving the Main Mall. But that's only about 1% of a $390-million project, that can help many, many people.

Among the highlights, more than half of the money, about $172-million will go toward street improvements. The second-largest capital outlay will go toward public safety. $47 million would help to pay for police equipment like guns and new cars. New fire trucks and stations would also benefit from the 3rd-penny tax.

An unidentified local resident says, "about $27-million will help to build more neighborhood parks and recreational facilities. The city of Tulsa needs it desperately. There's one controversial item on there, and in my opinion, it needs to be removed."

1% of a 3rd penny extension that has been a sure thing, has become 100% of the controversy.