Published December 29, 2015 by Jarrel Wade (Tulsa World)
County officials are now seeking one-sixth of the renewal of the Vision 2025 sales tax, despite agreements among officials in cities within the county to carve out only half that — 1/12th — of the expiring 0.6 percent tax for the county, Tulsa County Commissioner Ron Peters said Monday.
That smaller amount would be a 0.05 percent sales tax.
The problem is that the 0.1 percent proposal from the county no longer fits in the plan the municipalities are seeking that would give voters a chance to decide on a simple renewal of the existing tax amount.
If the city of Tulsa pursues a 0.55 percent sales tax as planned and the county pursues a 0.1 percent sales tax and voters approve all items, the overall base sales tax rate in Tulsa would increase by 0.05.
Putting that into simpler terms, a diner would pay one more cent on a $20 meal at a restaurant inside the city limits than he or she would pay under the current tax rate.
The divvying up of Vision 2025 has been ongoing for months on the municipal level after city leaders agreed to pursue their own tax packages rather than continue Vision 2025’s countywide approach. Peters said the decision was made without input from the county and would leave the county without enough revenue to fund its needs.
“The Cities United effort was sort of a secretive process,” Peters said. “The county was excluded from that. The (Tulsa Regional) Chamber was excluded from that. So they pretty much decided they were taking 0.55 before the county was invited to the party.”
Peters said Monday that he thinks he has support from other county commissioners to put a 0.1 percent county sales tax on the ballot and then let voters decide.
“We will have at least three issues on the ballot,” Peters said.
“The city of Tulsa will have about four issues on the ballot. So it’ll be a smorgasbord of what the voters want to approve.”
Peters said the county has no choice, with about $140 million in needs that include $34.2 million for Expo Square facilities, $62.4 million for Tulsa County roads and bridges, $14.4 million for county parks and $25 million for capital improvements.
“It’s not really a want but a need,” he said.
“They, in fact, took all the money we have for roads off the table.”
Peters referenced Improve Our Tulsa, which replaced the county’s Four to Fix the County tax package for road repair. He said that with that money off the table after 2011, the county is forced to go after more of the Vision renewal.
“I think our package is reasonable,” Peters said. “We’re only asking for a tenth of the six-tenths. I hope we can work things out with the Mayor’s Office.”
Tulsa city officials, including all nine city councilors and Mayor Dewey Bartlett, met before Christmas to come up with a tax package proposal for Vision renewal.Follow @FortySixNews