Thanks to voters’ passing the Improve Our Tulsa package in November, the city will get some nuts-and-bolts makeovers this year.
“Improve Our Tulsa is the main funding source for core city services, including street maintenance, improvements at city facilities, even police and fire services,” says Chris Wylie, vice president of communications with the Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce.
The funding package extends a one-cent sales tax for capital improvement projects.
“It’s largely a list of needs, not wants,” Wylie says. “It was just very important that we do what we can to adequately fund those municipal services.”
The package also incorporates maintenance and improvements to parks, including Whiteside, Lacy and Hicks; Tulsa Transit; police and fire; and economic and community development projects, City of Tulsa communications officer Lara Weber says.
According to the Improve Our Tulsa website, nearly $625 million of the package’s $918.7 million is slated for street and bridge projects, ranging from patching and crack sealing to asphalt overlays and complete reconstructions. These include addressing stormwater issues and sidewalk hazards, adding or repairing handicap ramps, and replacing old water lines.
The package funds the Arena District Master Plan, designed to improve the areas around the BOK and Cox Business centers and boost tourism and capital investment.
“In the 2020 package, $19.2 million is specified for the Central Business District – streets, alleyways and the Arena District Master Plan implementation,” Weber says. “Additional funding for the Arena District Master Plan will be needed to continue the implementation.
“The money will come from $427 million in general obligation bonds funded through the City of Tulsa’s share of residents’ property taxes and a half-cent sales tax that will begin to be collected as soon as the funds from the first Improve Our Tulsa package have been raised [estimated to be by July 1, 2021]. The sales tax for Improve Our Tulsa 2020 will be [.45% of a penny] for the capital projects and [.05% of a penny] for the Rainy Day Fund. The portion of the tax that will fund capital projects will be $193 million. When the $193 million has been raised, the temporary $0.0045 tax will expire.”
To view progress of the projects, go to improveourtulsa.com.