New Fix Our Streets proposal could total $800 million
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Friday, December 21, 2012
2/15/13 at 2:11 PM
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If Tulsa's upcoming five-year Fix Our Streets renewal proposal includes all of the current program's funding sources, it will be valued at $800 million, new revenue projections show.
The city's Finance Department presented dollar figures to the City Council on Thursday as councilors and Mayor Dewey Bartlett begin crafting a package of street improvements and other city needs to take to voters next fall.
Capital Planning Manager Gary Hamer told councilors that city departments have submitted $1.4 billion in capital requests for fiscal years 2015 to 2019, which is the period the package would cover.
"Obviously, that's beyond what could be funded," Hamer said, noting that the requests have been prioritized by department heads to help the council and the administration whittle down a manageable list.
Finance officials project that $116 million more could be raised if the city decides to capture its 0.6-cent Vision 2025 sales-tax share in 2017 when the Tulsa County initiative expires.
That would boost the Fix Our Streets renewal to $916 million.
But councilors seemed reluctant to do that Thursday.
Council Chairman David Patrick said he thinks the Vision 2025 tax share should be left alone in case elected leaders want to pursue another Vision package in the future. A county effort to pass Vision2 failed at the polls in November.
"I think when we get right down to it, $800 million is where I'm comfortable at," he said. "We can get a lot done over five years with that amount of money."
Councilor G.T. Bynum, who is heading the council task force that is reviewing proposal options, told the Tulsa World that by their rejection of Vision2 in the fall, voters clearly said they don't want that tax extension explored further until closer to when it expires.
"I don't want that contaminating this proposal," Bynum said.
Bartlett told the newspaper that he, too, would have concerns about incorporating the Vision 2025 tax share into the city's proposal.
"I think we need to keep our powder dry in some areas," he said, but he added that no decisions have been made.
The first Fix Our Streets package, which was approved by city voters in 2008, totals $452 million.
All of its funding sources expire June 30, 2014. They include the Third Penny sales tax, the city's share of Tulsa County's former 4 to Fix tax, and general obligation bonds.
The initial effort was valued at less than the $800 million renewal being considered because the funding sources kicked in at different intervals as they expired elsewhere.
However, all of the first Fix Our Streets package was dedicated to repairing the city's cracked and crumbling streets.
Because past city Third Penny and general obligation bond packages have covered a variety of other city capital expenses, from police cars to fire trucks to information technology equipment to park improvements, some portion of the renewal proposal is expected to be for needs other than streets.
Public Works Department officials recently told councilors that a $470 million investment would bring city streets up to an average 64 score on the 1-to-100 Pavement Condition Index over five years. The first Fix Our Streets will have increased the arterial streets score from 60 to 62 and residential streets score from 58 to 60.
Spending $670 million would bring the average score up to 69. The city's goal has been to eventually achieve a 70 and then maintain it.
If any street widening or new road projects were included, the costs would be beyond those numbers.
Bynum said he thinks $470 million should be considered "the bottom floor" dedicated to streets because that's the public's priority.
But he said the $670 million for streets and $130 million for other city needs is possible, noting that he's looking forward to hearing from department heads about their capital requests.
Patrick said the city should come up with a new name for the renewal proposal because it will deal with needs other than streets, noting that marketing is important.
"Maybe Fix Our Streets Plus," he suggested.
Proposed Fix Our Streets renewal funding
Third Penny: $374,055,000
2011 sales tax levy (formerly 4 to Fix the County): $62,467,000
General obligation bond: $355,000,000
Original Print Headline: Street-repair total projected
Brian Barber 918-581-8322