Tulsa County officials detail Vision2 wish list
BY KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 01, 2012
11/01/12 at 8:04 AM
Read more about the proposal and the status of Vision 2025 projects.
Tulsa County officials didn't waste any time determining how they would spend the county's projected $92 million in Vision2 funding, should the sales-tax initiative be approved by voters Tuesday.
Just a month after approving a resolution calling for the election, county commissioners on Sept. 10 approved a second resolution listing how the county intends to spend its Vision2 funding.
County officials say the Vision2 dollars would allow work begun with 4 to Fix the County and Vision 2025 funding to continue - such as improvements to Expo Square and county roads. The money also would be spent on urgent needs such as fixing a levee and constructing a new juvenile justice center, officials say.
Here is a breakdown on how the county would spend its Vision2 funds:
$38 million - juvenile justice center
County officials have been looking to replace the existing Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau for years.
Built in 1968, the 46,000-square-foot facility at 315 S. Gilcrease Museum Road is old, run-down and overcrowded, county officials say.
Nearly 6,000 youths per year pass through the facility, where they appear before judges in County Juvenile Court and receive court-related services, including probation and education, from the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau.
The facility also includes a 55-bed detention center.
As envisioned, the new center would include six courtrooms with appropriate holding areas, a detention facility, classrooms and a cafeteria.
It would also include office space for attorneys to meet with clients, conference rooms, and office space for court clerk, juvenile bureau and sheriff's office personnel and other service providers.
Tulsa County - like every other county in the state - is required to provide facilities for court services.
$25 million - infrastructure, including roads and bridges
Tulsa County has identified more than 200 miles of roads in need of work and more than 50 bridges that are either classified as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
County Engineer Tom Rains said the county would use the Vision2 funds to tend to those needs - though a list of the exact projects to be funded is still being compiled.
If Vision2 passes, Rains said, "we are going to take a look at possible projects we would be able to partner with the state and federal governments, the tribes and other municipalities to try to multiply dollars."
Rains said one project that would be considered for Vision2 funding is an upgrade of a decades-old bridge along 201st Street in south Tulsa County.
The bridge has been closed for several years due to safety concerns.
"It is on a low-volume road, but to the people who live down there it is very important," Rains said.
$12 million - Expo Square
Expo Square President and CEO Mark Andrus keeps a list of projects that need to be completed at the fairgrounds, so he knows exactly how the fairgrounds would use its $12 million in Vision2 funding.
The list, for now, includes 10 projects, beginning with $500,000 in fencing along 15th Street to contain loose animals.
The other projects are a storage facility ($1.5 million); a covered arena for equestrian exercise and equipment and dirt storage ($1.5 million); a security camera system ($2 million); expansion, upgrade and maintenance of barns ($4 million); redesign and rehabilitation of QuikTrip Center entrance parking area ($1 million); a wireless point-of-sale system ($350,000); Central Park Hall interior upgrades ($300,000); new Central Park Hall and Ford Truck Arena seating ($750,000); and construction of lobbies at the east, west and north sides of the QuikTrip Center ($1.5 million).
$10 million - levee system
After receiving an "unacceptable" rating from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2008, the 21-mile levee became ineligible for federal rehabilitation assistance, should it be damaged in a flood or significant storm.
Early this year, it earned a conditional reinstatement into the assistance program after receiving permission to develop and implement a federal repair and restoration program.
To keep eligibility, however, Drainage District 12, as it is known, must show that it is making progress on the improvements.
That is where the $10 million in Vision2 funds comes in.
"The levee system protects over $2 billion of infrastructure," said Drainage District 12 Commissioner Todd Kilpatrick. "There are 50,000 people inside the district that are protected and another 25,000 that work inside the district. The ramifications are great."
The funds would be used to replace more than 1,000 relief wells and 11 miles of drainage pipes - a project estimated to cost $20 million to $25 million.
"This would be a great start," Kilpatrick said.
$7 million - county parks
Tulsa County Park Administration Director Richard Bales said Vision2 funds would be used to continue the work begun with Vision 2025 and 4 to Fix monies, which funded new facilities and improvements to existing ones.
Bales said projects being considered for Vision2 funding include replacing the picnic pavilions at Chandler Park and upgrading the large baseball diamond at LaFortune Park with a new backstop and lighting.
"That is one of the last baseball complexes that has not been upgraded," he said. "We would just continue that process of trying to get our facilities up to today's standards."
County pools at LaFortune, Chandler and O'Brien parks also need work - not just to maintain them, but to keep them attractive to the county's youth, Bales said.
"Kids today, they want to be entertained, they want more than just a pool with very little activity other than playing in the water," he said. "When you look at a 40-year-old pool, it's a cement hole with water in it. It is not very exciting."
Economist: Outsiders would help foot Vision2 cost
If the proposed $748.8 million Vision2 package passes Tuesday, more than $291 million of it won't end up being paid by Tulsa County residents, an economist predicts.
Bob Ball, an economist for the Tulsa Metro Chamber, estimates that 38.9 percent of annual taxable sales in Tulsa County is paid on nonresident spending, meaning travelers coming through the city or shoppers from the region.
Ball said he derived the estimate by taking the ratio of the estimated spending on taxable goods in Tulsa County by residents to total retail spending in Tulsa County.
Estimated spending on taxable goods by residents was derived by taking 33 percent of personal income for the county, a figure suggested by Mark Snead, an economist and president of RegionTrack LLC.
- Wayne Greene, World Senior Writer
Original Print Headline: County assesses needs
Kevin Canfield 918-581-8313
Tulsa County District 3 Supervisor Robbie Thompson (left) and engineer Tom Rains stand along the 101-year-old bridge over Snake Creek on 201st Street about a quarter mile west of Mingo Road south of Bixby. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
This 101-year-old Tulsa County bridge over Snake Creek was closed two years ago out of safety concerns. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World