As a statewide effort to increase state sales grows, voters in Broken Arrow and Bixby approved .55 percent increase in their sales taxes on Nov. 10.
Bixby okayed four propositions by margins of 1,314 to 553, 1,472 to 393, 1,350 to 512 and 1,333 to 527. In Broken Arrow, the two propositions passed 2,997 to 900 and 3,059 to 828.
City officials said the increased taxes would go to public safety, street and “economic development.” Proponents of the tax increase argued that the cities should increase their taxes because the Vision 2025 temporary sales tax is expiring in 2017.
In 2003, Tulsa County voters approved a full penny sales tax increase for mostly municipal projects. That tax was scaled back to .6 of a cent after Boeing Company declined to bring a plant to Tulsa. That hike has produced hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes with a surplus over the promised projects.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and the city councilors want the City of Tulsa to approve a new sales tax increase with a vote that will probably come April 5. The Tulsa chamber, which usually leads the process of tax increases, is demanding that the tax hike, if passed, will go to its list of capital improvements rather than for funding for public safety. More than a billion dollars’ worth of spending has been suggested even though the hike has not been approved by voters.
Mike Neal, president of the Tulsa chamber, called Broken Arrow and Bixby “progressive” for passing the sales tax increases.
In Broken Arrow, .3 percent of the new tax will go for more police and firefighters plus equipment. The other .25 percent will be for street maintenance and sidewalks.
The first two propositions in Bixby would use .3 percent sales tax for work on the Arkansas River corridor, which includes improvement downtown and in parks. The second .25 sales tax hike will go to public safety, including police and fire departments. The tax goes into effect January 1, 2017. The other propositions will go to parks and recreation projects.
An initiative petition to place a one-cent sales tax increase statewide for education is planned. If successful, it would put the idea to a vote of the people in November of 2016.