Vision 2025 idea offered to fund airport complex improvements
BY BRIAN BARBER & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
6/12/12 at 8:40 AM
The latest idea being floated to fund millions of dollars in airport industrial complex improvements is a full-blown Tulsa County Vision 2025 Part Two tax package, multiple sources have told the Tulsa World.
The package, which could appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, also would have money for other projects, possibly including low-water dams in the Arkansas River and the OKPOP Museum in the Brady District, among others.
Even though the current 0.6 cent Vision 2025 sales tax doesn't expire until Dec. 31, 2016, an advance funding mechanism could be used to begin Part Two projects right away, if approved by voters.
This appears to be a potential consensus reached by city, county, Tulsa Metro Chamber and area leaders who have been meeting privately about the various airport industrial complex funding ideas on the table, sources said.
It allays two fears that have been expressed about other ideas in that it would not raise the tax rate and it would not tie up a future Vision 2025 effort solely for airport-related improvements.
The package likely would include the $254.4 million figure cited for the airport industrial complex that would, in part, benefit American Airlines and other tenants through facility upgrades.
It also would have $75 million for a "deal-closing fund" that conceivably would be overseen by a new county authority to offer incentives to businesses that locate or grow in the region.
What else it would contain remains to be seen. A projects list might be culled from the enVision Summit, which was held in April and sponsored by the chamber and County Commission.
County Commissioner Karen Keith declined to talk specifically about a possible Vision 2025 extension, saying discussions are ongoing about the best way to raise funds to maintain and attract jobs in the aviation maintenance industry.
"We are still trying to figure out the best option to save those jobs," Keith said. "Absolutely no decision has been made."
County Commissioner Fred Perry, meanwhile, said he doesn't think a consensus exists regarding a possible tax extension.
"There are multiple options out there," Perry said, "And I am still looking at A, whether to do anything at all, and B, if we do anything, what is the best option."
County Commissioner John Smaligo said his focus continues to be on creating jobs without increasing taxes.
Smaligo said he has not made up his mind about a Vision 2025 extension that would include new projects.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Council Chairman G.T. Bynum both declined to comment about the latest proposal.
Tulsa Metro Chamber CEO Mike Neal said, "There are so many ideas floating around right now; I have no idea what to comment on."
A full-fledged Vision 2025 Part Two is the fourth idea to surface.
Regional leaders began meeting months ago in the wake of American Airlines' bankruptcy to think of ways to preserve local jobs.
The conversation evolved into keeping the airport industrial complex facilities maintained and marketable, regardless of who occupies them.
Chamber officials originally pitched the possibility of a 0.4 cent sales-tax increase to fund airport-related improvements and a "deal-closing fund."
As an alternative, Smaligo suggested a limited extension of Vision 2025 so there would be no net tax-rate increase.
In response, Bynum and Councilor Blake Ewing offered for consideration a $90 million proposal involving the county's using a 0.167 cent sales-tax share, which the city is now collecting, for airport improvements.
Their proposal did not include a "deal-closing fund" provision. Bynum and Ewing have said they are against that idea.
Original Print Headline: 2nd Vision 2025 proposed
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
The package, which could appear on the Nov. 6 ballot, also would have money for other projects, possibly including low-water dams in the Arkansas River and the OKPOP Museum in the Brady District, among others. Courtesy