Editorial: Vote No April 5 on Tulsa sales tax

Tulsa, Jenks, Owasso, Collinsville and Glenpool will all vote on sales tax propositions on April 5.

In Jenks, Owasso, Collinsville and Glenpool, the proceeds mostly will go for streets, sidewalks, parks, sewers, waterlines and other infrastructure. And for the most part, the suburban sales taxes are temporary and expire in a few years.

Not so in Tulsa.

While the Tulsa sales tax increase has a little bit for public safety and streets, a huge portion of the $884,100,000.00 tax hike will go to “economic development.”

Translation: “economic development” means pet projects for the mayor, city councilors and the powerful businessmen who run the chamber of commerce.

That includes:

  • $63,000,000.00 for dams on the river
  • $65,000,000.00 for Gilcrease Museum
  • Almost $100,000,000.00 for museums
  • $15,000,000.00 for a “BMX” headquarters
  • About $25,000,000.00 for state-supported public colleges
  • About $25,000,000.00 for state-supported public schools

Tulsa has virtually no funding for its aging water and sewer line.  The city wants to put water in the river but councilors may not be able to keep delivering safe, clean tap water to all Tulsans in a few years.

Also, most of the Tulsa package involves a permanent sales tax increase because the mayor and city councilors can never get enough taxpayer money to spend.

And Tulsa plans to borrow money with bonds to rush into some of these projects. Tulsa will borrow money that is supposed to be repaid with a declining revenue source – sales tax.

So-called city experts are unable to accurately predict sales tax revenues while planning budgets. The only thing they know is that sales taxes in Tulsa are declining. And raising the rates could hasten that decline. If sales taxes come up short, the shortfall will be made up through Tulsa’s sinking fund. That means a property tax hike for every homeowner in the city.

Tulsans want better streets and bridges. They want clean tap water and sewers that don’t back up in their homes.

They don’t want to saddle poor people and those on fixed incomes with overtaxation.  Tulsa needs different priorities and city leaders need only to look toward the suburbs on how to properly spend taxes.

Please vote no on all three Tulsa sales tax increase propositions on April 5.