Tulsa City Council approves half-cent sales tax to be on ballot

Friday, September 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

It's now up to voters to decide whether a $263 million tourism plan lives or dies. The Tulsa City Council killed a proposed entertainment tax Thursday night, but voted to send a half-cent sales tax to the ballot box this fall.

Here are the basics of the plan. Tulsans will vote on the half-cent sales tax November 7th. The tax would last approximately seven years and raise just over $263 million for downtown improvements.

The money would be used to revitalize the Convention Center and build a new arena next to it. More downtown parking and a trolley system are included in the plan. The council first debated an entertainment tax as one way to pay for the tourism package. However, opposition from the restaurant industry, and it's last minute ad campaign apparently worked.

Roscoe Turner was just one of two councilors who supported a fee on restaurant tabs and other forms of entertainment. When interviewed by The News on Six, Turner admitted he was frustrated during the meeting. "I had to stop talking, he explained. “I very upset when I realized that people were stonewalling for no reason at all.” The restaurant industry, just stonewalled,” he continued. “What really upset me is that they tried to intimidate the council by going with those half-page ads.”

A restaurant industry spokesman says they didn't bully anyone. And in the end, the council unanimously approved the half-cent sales tax which was their only other option. The council also decided to give seniors 65 and over and people who make $28,000 a year or less a break from the sales tax. Those people who meet the criteria would receive a rebate on the tax ranging from $20 to $60 dollars a year.

Councilors say they'll spend a lot of time explaining the details of the tax, and the rebate prgram over the next several weeks.