Voters to decide on Tulsa County tax question November 7th

Tuesday, August 22nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Two Tulsa County commissioners made waves Monday by voting to put another multi-million dollar project before voters. In a 2-to-1 vote, the Tulsa County Commission decided to ask voters to approve a sales tax extension on November 7th. That's the same day, Tulsans will be asked to approve a sales tax increase and entertainment tax for a city improvements project.

Among other things, the county sales tax extension would help speed up plans to renovate Expo Square.
Some city leaders say it would be great to speed up the projects at the fairgrounds. However, they've spent two years preparing plans to fix-up the convention center and build a new arena.

One county commissioner says it's also time for the county to step forward. Tulsa county commissioner Wilbert Collins made the push at a news conference. “There will be no increase on the tax you are currently paying as we speak," he said. Collins wants to extend the sales tax that paid for the new jail for another five years. The new money would raise almost $21 million for countywide road improvements, $20 million for Expo Square, $6.5 million for flood control projects and $2.5 million to improve some county parks.

This means the one-sixth-of-a-penny tax would not go away in October of 2001. “That's not asking too much to take care of some dire needs,” Collins said. “We have deemed to be dire needs." Collins and commissioner Bob Dick approved the plan. Commissioner John Selph voted against it, saying the project will lose the faith in the voters. "I think the message that was delivered to the voters was that this would be a temporary tax," Selph explained.

Some supporters of the city's improvement projects are worried that voters will be upset on November 7th.
The county wide improvement vote would be on the same day as the vote for a refurbished convention center, a new arena, and other projects in the city of Tulsa. The question that remains -- will voters say yes to both projects?

Tulsa City Councilor Brady Pringle wishes the county would have waited. He calls two votes about taxes on the same day unfortunate timing. “It's a little troublesome,” Pringle said. “I understand the county has needs. I'm sure they are worthy, but it does complicate matters." Tulsa mayor Susan Savage says the extension of the jail tax breaks faith with the voters. “My biggest concern is always maintaining the integrity of anything you promise to the voters," she said.

Commissioner Collins says the county plan won't have a chance if they wait. He believes if both plans are presented properly, voters will give them the thumbs up. The county commission and the city council still have time to make changes.