Tulsa County Commissioners – John Smaligo, Fred Perry and Karen Keith – voted on August 13, 2012 to put a proposed $748.8 M tax increase (oops! extension) on the November 6th ballot. This huge tax package has been named Vision2.
Vision2 proposes an extension of the Vision 2025 tax passed in Tulsa County in 2003. Vision 2025 was “a one penny 13-year increase in the Tulsa County Sales Tax for regional economic development and capital improvements”. This temporary tax was to end in 2017.
However, Commissioners Smaligo, Perry and Keith, and the Tulsa Metro Chamber, apparently couldn’t wait that long to propose the extension of the already over-funded Vision 2025 tax package. It looks like they have been working on this additional “vision” for the last year.
Projects described include capitol improvements and the establishment of a slush fund euphemistically called a “job incentive fund” to be used to bribe “businesses” to come to Tulsa. Capital improvements are mostly for the benefit of a few private sector aerospace entities (American Airlines, and possibly Spirit AeroSystems).
Vision2 plans call for the establishment of yet another Trust Authority to manage the slush fund and distributions.
If passed, Vision2 will result in some pretty nice contracts for Chamber members.
From a document secured via an open record request:
“POSSIBLE REGIONAL JOB INCENTIVE GUIDELINES – SUGGESTIONS FROM THE INCENTIVE TASK FORCE
A Trust Authority should be created and made up of a combination of Mayors, County Commissioners, and at-large business leaders from Tulsa County. It is recommended that the trust authority size be either (unclear) 7 members. A mechanism for confidential discussions during the initial stages of the project must be put in place so projects are not subject to open records until the project is ready to go public.”
The Vision2 Wish List -
OK-SAFE does not typically get involved in local tax issues, but given the direction of the economy, and the fact that the Vision 2025 tax was supposed to be a temporary tax, we cannot support this tax. Vision 2025 is not set to expire for several more years, and those tax fund collections have already exceeded projected figures, yet there is no discussion of refunding the excess funds to the citizens. We recommend a NO vote on all Vision2 Proposals on the November ballot.