Tulsa is at a crossroads on many issues, from housing to safety to road repairs. The city faces deteriorating parks, growing homelessness, aging streets, and growing police and fire needs.
Voting “yes” Tuesday on the Improve Our Tulsa 3 capital improvements package keeps the city on the right path to address these needs.
For more than a decade, Tulsa voters have invested in transformational infrastructure projects, with the city showing good stewardship of those public dollars. Now is not the time to let up on that commitment.
On Tuesday, Tulsa voters will decide four propositions: $295.8 million for streets and transportation; $270.4 million for city facilities; $152.8 million for city capital equipment; and $95 million for housing and neighborhoods.
Approval does not raise taxes.
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It would be a four-year extension to the 2019 Improve Our Tulsa 2 package. Funding for the proposed improvements would come from $384.9 million in bond sales backed by property taxes and a roughly four-year extension of a ninety-five one-hundredths of 1% sales tax. The bond replaces retiring ones.
The first Improve Our Tulsa package, for $918.7 million, was approved in 2013, followed by the $639 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal in 2019.
If approved, the Improve Our Tulsa 3 projects will begin no later than January 2026.
There is much to embrace among the propositions.
For months, Tulsa World reporter Kevin Canfield has provided details on how the package was put together and projects it contains.
In keeping with previous packages, the emphasis is on replacing or updating existing city facilities and infrastructure.
Highlights include $79.7 million for the Tulsa Performing Arts Center, $58.5 million for new Fire Department trucks and equipment, $47.5 million for a new public safety center, $10 million toward the new Gilcrease Museum, $8 million for golf courses, $5 million for a Chamberlain Park recreational center and $5 million for a River Parks maintenance building.
The proposal also calls for providing $5 million for Zink Lake amenities and infrastructure such as parking, restrooms and utilities.
Many other needs are embedded in the proposal, such as park trail improvements, behind-the-scenes needs at the Tulsa Zoo and repaving at the city’s Safety Training Center.
Housing is on this list of priorities, a necessary and important move. The package includes $75 million — a first-of-its-kind investment by the city. This funding will be added to other resources that include federal grants and development incentives.
Homelessness is on the rise nationally, and Tulsa is no exception. The solution is known: more housing.
A Tulsa Citywide Housing Assessment completed earlier this year found that 12,900 housing units of all types and price points are needed, with a current pent-up demand for 4,000 units. That will require spending $245 million a year on housing over the next decade.
The city has a responsibility to make sure all residents have access to housing; everyone has a role.
Tulsa has made great leaps with past Improve Our Tulsa packages, and that momentum must continue. Vote yes on Tuesday.