Tulsa County officials plan vote to put Vision2 plan on November ballot
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer & WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, August 10, 2012
8/10/12 at 7:00 AM
Read more about the proposal and the status of Vision 2025 projects.
Tulsa County commissioners will vote Monday on whether to call a Nov. 6 election on Vision2 - an extension of the 0.6 percent Vision 2025 sales tax through 2029.
The commissioners scheduled the vote Thursday morning after hearing details of a proposed $748.8 million package of economic development and quality-of-life projects to be funded with the proposed tax extension.
The extension would start when the current tax expires Jan. 1, 2017, although bond sales on the economic development half of the program could make funding available for those projects soon after voters approve it.
"I think that the proposal seemed to be positively received today, and it seems like each of us is ready to make a decision on Monday," Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo said after the meeting.
Later in the day, the Vision2 proposal was formally unveiled at the BOK Center.
"We want everyone to understand that Vision2 is direly needed, and it will make our region the region we want it to be," said Don Walker, co-chairman of the Vision2 campaign.
Officials chose to announce Vision2 at the BOK Center for a reason: The arena has been the centerpiece of the Vision 2025 program.
"Look around us, right here in this room," said Walker, president and CEO of Arvest Bank. "This facility is one of our key results of Vision 2025."
The first element of the Vision2 plan is $386.88 million for economic development - improvements on key industrial sites at Tulsa International Airport and a $52.942 million closing fund to offer final incentives to companies considering locating in the area.
A second $361.92 million package would go to quality-of-life improvements to be selected by the county and each of its cities.
The quality-of-life money would be apportioned to communities in the county according to population. Spending plans will grow from public discussions and should be determined well in advance of a vote on the package, campaign organizers said.
The resolutions to be considered by county commissioners on Monday would set the date for the election, the tax rates being proposed and the general purpose for which the funds will be used.
The resolutions do not include the community projects to be funded in Vision2.
Organizers of the Vision2 campaign said Thursday that they would like to see community projects listed before the proposed election but that each city will control how its vetting process is handled.
"It is important that each individual community and each individual city council in each of the suburban communities, as well as the city of Tulsa, has its respective discretion and its respective public process to determine what the local projects will be," said Mike Neal, CEO and executive director of the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
During their morning meeting, commissioners also agreed to consider a second resolution Monday outlining how the county intends to spend the $92 million it is projected to receive from Vision2.
Those proposed projects include $38 million for a juvenile justice center and family court facility; $25 million for roads and other infrastructure; $12 million for Expo Square; $10 million for levee improvements; and $7 million for parks and recreational facilities.
"This is a good opportunity for us to take care of a lot of issues for the county but that are also very critical for economic development," Commissioner Karen Keith said.
The two propositions presented to commissioners total $748.8 million, $900,000 more than initial descriptions of the package size. The difference is the result of a press release rounding error.
A key element of the economic development package is $254 million in improvements for three city-owned manufacturing facilities at the Tulsa airport-industrial complex, said Jim Fram, senior vice president of the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
The improvements will deal with fundamental engineering problems and equipment needed to create state-of-the-art industrial facilities, he said.
The three facilities - currently in use by American Airlines, Spirit AeroSystems and IC Bus - date back to the early days of World War II and are in dire need of fundamental repairs, including roofing, wiring and air conditioning, Fram said.
The package also includes high-tech equipment to allow the facilities to have useful lives long into the future regardless of the tenants, he said.
Before any of the money is spent on the facilities, the county will negotiate long-term contractual job commitments, Fram said. The contracts will include "clawback" provisions, allowing the county to recoup costs if the commitments aren't met, he said.
Even if the current tenants leave the facilities, the renovated buildings will be attractive lures to other employers, he said.
Walker said there is a false perception that the tenants of the buildings haven't spent any of their own money on the facilities. American Airlines alone has spent some $445 million on its Tulsa facilities, but the community needs to make a major investment now to protect its assets and the 11,000 jobs in the airport complex, he said.
Rich Brierre, executive director of the Indian Nations Council of Governments, said the project is structured so that the bonds for the economic development projects could be sold soon after the election, allowing for quick implementation.
Bonds for the quality-of-life projects wouldn't be sold until after the tax goes into effect, unless local governments want to pay additional financing costs and move their projects forward, he said.
Brierre said a senior rebate that was part of the Vision 2025 program will also be part of the Vision2 proposal.
Qualifying Tulsa County residents over the age of 65 currently receive $18 rebates on the sales taxes they've paid. If the new package passes, they would be eligible for $24 rebates starting in 2017 to adjust for increases in the cost of living, Brierre said.
More than 24,000 people take advantage of the program every year, Tulsa County Treasurer Dennis Semler said.
Proprosed election date: Nov. 6
Amount: Extension of 0.6 percent Vision 2025 sales tax through 2029
Proposition 1: Economic development
Original Print Headline: Building on a vision
- Airport industrial complex buildings and infrastructure - $122 million
- Airport industrial complex equipment - $132 million
- Closing fund - $52.942 million
- Bond costs and interest - $79.938 million
- Proposition 2: Quality-of-life improvements
- Tulsa County - $92 million
- Tulsa - $157.92 million
- Bixby - $11.3 million
- Broken Arrow - $44.1 million
- Collinsville - $3 million
- Glenpool - $5.9 million
- Jenks - $9.2 million
- Owasso - $14.38 million
- Sand Springs - $10.1 million
- Skiatook - $1.16 million
- Sperry - $643,894
- Bond costs and interest - $12 million
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313 Wayne Greene 918-581-8308
Tulsa Airport: Renovation of the Tulsa Airport manufacturingfacility used by IC Bus is part of a $386.88 millionpackage of economic development projects planned. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Juvenile center: Tulsa County officials will decide Mondaywhether to seek to commit $38 million for a newjuvenile justice center and family court. TOM GILBERT/Tulsa World
Arkansas River: Tulsa and other cities have talked aboutusing potential Vision2 quality-of-life money to improveand build dams on the Arkansas River. Tulsa World file
Gilcrease Expressway: Mayor Bartlett has suggested that abridge over the Arkansas River could use Vision2 money,if voters approve a proposed sales tax extension. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World