Tulsa city councilors approved a $1,160,000.00 tax break for the parent company of the Tulsa World as the city keeps approving public dollars for private companies downtown.
Berkshire Hathaway Media (controlled by Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett) owns the liberal Tulsa World the adjoining Palace Building (also known as the Excalibur Building) at 324 S. Main Street (next door to the Tulsa World offices and plant).
Thanks to the vote by the councilors, the Tulsa World will pay only $17,700 a year in property taxes for six years when they probably should be paying as much as $211,000.00 a year in taxes when fully renovated. The vote was 7-0, with Councilor Karen Gilbert abstaining because her husband is Tom Gilbert, chief photographer of the Tulsa World. Councilor David Patrick was absent.
The Palace Building was purchased by the Lorton Family, previous owners of the Tulsa World, and sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 2013. That building was constructed in 1913 but had been vacant since it was damaged in a 2011 earthquake. There was an implicit threat that the building would be torn down if the tax break were not granted.
The city, Tulsa Public Schools and Tulsa Technology Center have all agreed to give the Tulsa World the property tax break.
Tulsa City Councilors Blake Ewing and G.T. Bynum have praised the Tulsa World for “reinvesting” in downtown. The plan is to put apartments in the Palace Building.