After Vision2, Tulsa leaders ready to shift focus onto Fix Our Streets program
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Thursday, November 08, 2012
11/08/12 at 7:32 AM
With the defeat of Vision2 fresh on everyone's minds, Tulsa leaders say their focus needs to turn to next year's renewal of the city's Fix Our Streets program and save another Vision for another day.
"Hopefully this (Vision2) vote has made clear that there's a right way and a wrong way to approach these kinds of proposals," Council Chairman G.T. Bynum told the Tulsa World.
The Fix Our Streets continuation needs to be vetted thoroughly, with a lot of public input, he said. The lack of both were criticisms of Vision2.
"By the time this goes on the ballot, the ideal is that people will be sick of talking and hearing about it," Bynum said. "They will be ready to vote for it."
Fix Our Streets is made up of a variety of funding sources, including the third-penny sales tax, the city's share of the county's former 4-to-Fix sales tax, and general obligation bonds. It expires June 30, 2014.
City leaders are eyeing a possible election next fall for its extension.
But because the program includes the third penny, which was previously allocated toward other city capital needs, the next Fix Our Streets package is expected to be multidimensional, rather than focusing solely on transportation infrastructure.
Police cars, fire apparatus, park improvements, telecommunications equipment and many other city needs make up the $2.8 billion capital improvements plan from which the projects will be chosen.
"The No. 1 responsibility will be to continue the work on the streets," Bynum said. "Everything else will be in second place."
The first Fix Our Streets phase, approved by city voters in 2008, totaled $462 million to repair cracked and crumbling arterial and residential streets.
The revenue sources were triggered at different times as they became available.
The second phase should include at least that amount of money for streets, Bynum said.
Projections of the combined revenue sources indicate that a five-year package would generate roughly $800 million.
Bynum and Councilor Blake Ewing had mixed feelings about the proposed $748.8 million Tulsa County Vision2 sales tax package that was defeated at the polls Tuesday.
Both were against Vision2's Proposition 1, which would have funded airport industrial park improvements and equipment and a deal-closing fund to lure new and expand existing area businesses.
But they supported Proposition 2, which would have funded quality-of-life projects across the county.
They said they could see some aspects of Vision2 finding their way into a broader Fix Our Streets extension.
Among them, Bynum said, would be the Zink Dam repairs and Tulsa Zoo and Central Library upgrades.
"I'm not saying anything absolutely should be in the final package," he emphasized.
Bynum said he's also open to the idea of addressing the critical needs at the airport industrial complex, "not to bring forward a deal-closing fund and not to go buying equipment that we hope somebody will need to use (referring to the Vision2 proposal), but just to fix up the city-owned buildings."
"That certainly needs to be part of the discussion. We don't want to be deadbeat landlords."
Ewing agreed, saying: "There were a lot of worthy things included in Vision2, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them brought back in the future."
But the councilors said they and obviously the public do not want to hear about a possible renewal of Vision for a long time.
The current Vision 2025 package doesn't expire until 2017.
"I would hope there won't be attempts to bring this up again," Bynum said.
"We need to wait three or four years until we get closer to its expiration.
"The city of Tulsa needs to focus on our own internal priorities."
For his part, Mayor Dewey Bartlett said he is still trying to determine how best to cope with the Vision2 loss.
The 25,000 jobs that depend on the businesses at the airport industrial complex are in jeopardy, he said, and the city's facilities there need a lot of work to make them competitive.
"Those facts are still very true and are not going away," he said.
Bartlett, who was co-chairman of the Vision2 campaign, said he would meet with Tulsa Metro Chamber officials and other leaders to determine the best way to move forward.
What role the Fix Our Streets renewal may or may not play in that effort or whether it would include anything from Vision2 is unknown, he said.
"I really don't have an opinion on that just yet," Bartlett said. "I don't know."
Original Print Headline: Some leaders ready to shift focus onto Fix Our Streets program
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
G.T. Bynum: The Republican said, "Hopefully this (Vision2) vote has made clear that there's a right way and a wrong way to approach these kinds of proposals."
Blake Ewing: Both he and G. T. Bynum were against Vision2's Proposition 1, which would have funded airport industrial park improvements and equipment and a deal-closing fund to lure new and expand existing area businesses. But both Ewing and Bynum supported Proposition 2, which would have funded quality-of-life projects across the county