Mayor, councilors want tax increase for various projects

Mayor Dewey Bartlett wants to raise taxes to pay for public safety concerns.

“What I have heard consistently over the past two years from meetings, phone calls, e-mails and forums is how important public safety is to our citizens,” Bartlett said. “You cannot watch the news anymore without hearing of a tragic crime in our community. It’s time we take a stand to better our city and find the avenues available to get more officers in neighborhoods without raising taxes.”

City Councilor G.T. Bynum wants to raise taxes to pay for improvements on the Arkansas River.

“I am glad the City Council and Mayor’s Office are working toward a compromise between the various public safety proposals while balancing the needs for the citizens of Tulsa,” Bynum said. “I look forward to the discussions in the coming months with all of our City leaders to decide how the 0.6 percent of Vision 2025 funding will be allocated.”

The problem with both plans is that the sales tax increase they assume will be approved by Tulsa voters has not been passed by a vote of the people.

The county sales tax that is part of the  Vision 2025 vote in 2003 will expire in 2017. The mayor and city councilors are assuming easy passage of a new sales tax to replace that expiring tax and to make it a city sales tax hike rather than a new county tax.

Tulsa officials are looking to use 0.2 percent of the Vision 2025 taxation with $4.4 million in Vision 2025 use tax and 0.1 percent in the new sales tax to be applied to public safety. That would equal approximately $27.5 million per year for public safety.

The remainder of new city sales tax of 0.35 percent – approximately $30 million per year – would be spent on “economic development” and “quality of life projects,” including the Arkansas River low-water dam proposals. Tulsa County would receive 0.05 percent in funding to round out the 0.6 percent of total the new taxes.