Editorial: Higher taxes from city councilors

All of Tulsa’s city councilors can’t wait to raise taxes and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on the pet projects of their handlers at the chamber of commerce.

They are holding “public input” meetings and trying to convince citizens that the tax increase is a foregone conclusion and that everyone will get everything they want.

It never works that way.

The fact is that somewhere in a smoke-filled room in downtown Tulsa the list of projects is already set. It might be tweaked a bit if focus groups show that adding window dressing will help the chamber produce TV ads to get the tax increase passed. But you can bet that the main items are already cast in stone.

In 2003, county voters were tricked into passing Vision 2025, a county sales tax for municipal projects. “Public input” meetings showed that river development was the most popular topic but city and county officials (who conveniently are no longer in office) gleefully announced that the top priority was a downtown basketball arena for a city with no hopes for an NBA franchise and with two universities with their own arenas.

With the county tax expiring in 2017, Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his council partners want that tax to become a permanent city sales tax increase. Raising sewer and water rates 7-10 percent every year and increasing every fine in the city is not enough for their plans to grown municipal government – they want more and more tax money.

And the chamber, which has a brother-in-law deal that gives it millions every year from the hotel tax, can’t wait to spend money on the pet projects of its favorite members. (The chamber prefers sales tax increases because property tax increases have more of an impact on its richest members).

Bartlett and the councilors want a .6-percent hike in sales tax to raise more than $300,000,000.00 a year in new taxes for “economic development” and to spend on pointless projects on the Arkansas River. If officials from the Army Corps of Engineers were free to speak their honest opinions, they would tell Tulsa that those plans are a money pit.

Poor Tulsans on fixed incomes will bear the brunt of these pork barrel schemes. All Tulsans need to rise up and say no to new taxes and force city councilors to concentrate on core functions rather than the chamber wish list.