Tuesday, September 5, 2017 8:00 am
On Sept. 12, Oklahoma City voters will be asked to make a reinvestment in our city through three critical bond and sales tax initiatives. The initiatives focus on improving the quality of our streets and investing in public safety.
The permanent 0.25-cent sales tax would help hire 129 more police officers and 57 more firefighters with an annual $26 million boost for public safety and other day-to-day operations. It would be the first increase in the permanent general operations sales tax rate in over 40 years.
The second initiative is a temporary penny sales tax to improve the quality of our roads. This 27-month continuation of the expiring MAPS 3 penny sales tax would generate $240 million for street resurfacing, streetscapes, trails, sidewalks and bicycle infrastructure.
The third initiative is the 2017 general obligation bond. GO bonds use property tax revenue to fund basic and critical infrastructure needs such as streets, bridges, sidewalks, parks and drainage.
There will be 13 separate categories of projects on the ballot. One category, Economic and Community Development, funds an important economic tool, the Strategic Investment Program. The program is a discretionary job creation incentive fund to encourage companies to expand or locate their operations in Oklahoma City. It ensures accountability and transparency through a pay-for-performance model, meaning companies receive funding only once they meet job creation requirements. Formed when voters approved the 2007 GO bonds, the SIP has already created more than 4,200 jobs in Oklahoma City. Companies that have used the fund, such as Boeing, GE, Paycom and others, have invested an estimated $929 million in capital in Oklahoma City.
To learn more about these initiatives, visit the city’s website at www.okc.gov/residents/sept-12-bond-and-sales-tax-election. To learn more about the SIP, visit the strategic investment page on our website.
Voting “yes” on Sept. 12 to these critical bond and sales tax initiatives will not raise the property tax rate and keeps our total sales tax rate below the state average. What it will do is improve our infrastructure, public safety and our quality of life.
Cathy O’Connor is the president of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.