$919,900,000.00 tax hike BOK building luxury suites while asking for more funds
While announcing construction of hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of new luxury suites, the BOK Center is asking Tulsa voters to borrow $450,000.00 for other improvements.
The request for more money was made despite continued reports that the BOK Center is “making money.”
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the nine city councilors are formalizing plans to submit a $919,900,000.00 sales tax hike in November. The 2008 Third Penny sales tax vote was devoted to streets but this year’s package has other pet projects.
Planning for the tax hike started out at about $800,000,000.00 but it swelled to $919,900,000.00.
According to published reports, the BOK Center downtown will construct eight new luxury boxes, which would give the center 45 suites that are not available to the public but are sold to individuals and companies.
And a new VIP lounge is planned for the exclusive use by those in the suites.
The project will cost almost $800,000.00, with funding from the capital improvement fund of the arena and $300,000.00 of taxpayer funds leftover from construction in Vision 2025 – a county sales tax.
Local companies have already indicated interest in the private suites in an arena built entirely by taxpayer funds.
Even though the arena opened only five years ago, city officials want taxpayers to fund a new fire alarm system. The system originally installed in the “iconic” arena is no longer being built and it is impossible to get replacement parts.
The arena’s manager originally asked for $8,013,000.00 from the November tax hike but that was scaled back by Bartlett and the councilors.
The Tulsa Convention Center is slated to get $850,000.00 from the bond vote, if approved. Gilcrease Museum will get $9,047,907.00 and the Performing Arts Center is scheduled to get $5,528,000.00.
Under the plan, apart from streets, there are millions of dollars for parks, the police and fire departments, bike trails, sidewalks, River Parks ($11,756,000.00), animal shelter, river levees and the Route 66 Village ($550,000.00).
The Tulsa Zoo will get $8,000,000.00 for a new lion and tiger exhibit.
Even though the list seems settled, city officials continue a series of meetings for “public input.” After these meetings are done, the Council will vote to approve the package and set the election date.
The tax hike is supposed to replace the 2008 Fix Our Streets program.
Under that program, Tulsa borrowed millions of dollars rather than using a pay-as-you-go method of financing. In 2008, the projects were funded by general obligation bonds and a 1.167-percent sales tax.
$470,000,000.00 Street repairs
$88,000,000.00 Street widening
$39,604,060.00 Computer technology
$23,942,000.00 Planning/econ. develop.
$23,400,000.00 Bicycles and pedestrians
$18,912,322.00 Capital equipment
$11,756,000.00 River Parks
$11,750,000.00 Tulsa Zoo
$10,900,000.00 Eugene Field work
$10,000,000.00 City/County Libraries
$9,047,907.00 Gilcrease Museum
$8,702,000.00 Public facility upgrades
$6,050,000.00 New equipment
$5,528,000.00 Performing Arts Center
$3,500,000.00 Animal shelter
$3,400,000.00 Levee District No. 12
$3,000,000.00 Street rehab
$850,000.00 Convention Center
$550,000.00 Route 66 Village
$450,000.00 BOK Center