Several Communities Hold Key To River Tax Vote
There is two-and-a-half weeks left until the Arkansas River tax vote, and supporters are courting a powerful swing vote, the suburbs. News On 6 anchor Terry Hood reports outlying communities could easily tip the balance of the election.
If the river proposition passes, sales taxes will jump by almost half-a-penny countywide, and getting communities countywide to buy into the plan has been a hard sell.
Tulsa voters themselves could carry the vote. Almost two-thirds of those registered in the county live in Tulsa. But dissension in some neighborhoods, especially North Tulsa, could level the playing field. That makes communities like Broken Arrow big players in the vote.
Broken Arrow alone has more votes than the three suburbs that benefit most from the river plan, Bixby, Jenks and Sand Springs. But the city's mayor and the board of the Chamber of Commerce have come out against the tax hike.
"We could not be supportive of this tax for this purpose when we have our own current, sometimes more immediate, emerging issues that are going to require our tax dollars and the attention of our voters," Mickey Thompson of the Broken Arrow Chamber said. Collinsville's mayor feels the same way. In Glenpool the river tax would push the city's sales tax rate over 10%, and residents in Sperry are split on the tax. Altogether, voters in suburbs that don't directly benefit from this tax outnumber those in communities on the river, three-to-one. But supporters say the benefits will reach countywide.
"What is good for the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County will impact those people, especially from the creation of all the jobs," said Bixby Mayor Ray Bowen.
Bixby's mayor is on board, after fighting for his city to be included in the plan. Skiatook and Owasso's mayors are also giving it their support.
"We have an opportunity to take a major step forward for our entire region, for Owasso, for Bixby, for Broken Arrow, for Skiatook, for Tulsa, for the entire region," river tax supporter Ken Levit said.
River tax supporters know if they don't court the suburban vote, the plan could fail, so they're targeting those communities with direct mail to help bolster support before the vote.