Another tax? NO WAY! When will the madness end? Every time there is a perceived need (aka want), the city or county (this time) comes after the hard working taxpayer for more of their hard earned money instead of finding other ways to pay for the problem. It’s time to get government out of our pockets!
While most people would agree that there are needs with the juvenile justice center and the jail that need to be met, it’s the manner in which those needs are met that we have the most disagreement.
For some unknown reason, Tulsa loves to ‘bond’ the money they spend which results in millions of tax dollars being wasted on bonding fees and interest. The better way to accomplish building projects is by using a ‘pay-as-you-go’ plan, with no bonding fees and no interest, which means we get something to show for our hard earned tax dollars. The county commissioners will tell you that we can’t ‘pay as you go’ because they need the money NOW! This method will result in millions of taxpayer dollars going toward bonding fees and interest, giving the taxpayers a GREAT BIG NOTHING for their money!
If we were to think outside the box we could come up with other ways to pay for the jail expansion and the new juvenile justice center. What about the overage from the Vision 2025 funds? Since the projects from Vision 2025 have been completed, the tax dollars we are collecting is more than sufficient to meet the bonds with an estimated $11 million surplus each year. We will continue collecting taxes through December 2016 and with what we currently have in the bank ($90 million), three years of approximately $11 million each year in overages (after paying bond obligations), we would have in excess of $123 million remaining. Please note: these are the low end figures of what is anticipated to be Vision 2025 overage, some believe it could go as high as $150 million plus. There was a promise made to the outlying communities that they would be given $45 million (total) upon completion of collection of Vision 2025 sales tax, so that obligation needs to be honored.
Let’s recap, the low budget estimate is that we will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $123 million in Vision 2025 sales tax overage (note: revenues are coming in higher than projected), we pay the outlying communities their $45 million, it will leave approximately $78 million for us to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center. Your taxes don’t rise and our community is safer!
Of course when you ask the county commissioners about using the Vision 2025 overage to pay for the jail/justice center we are told we can’t use those funds because the funds are delegated to specific types of projects as voted on when Vision 2025 sales tax passed, September 2003. The truth is, they can allow the citizens to make the decision on how they want their tax dollars spent by allowing them to vote to authorize the use of Vision 2025 funding to expand the jail and build the juvenile justice center.
When asked about the overage from Vision 2025, you get a different answer each time. Last I heard from Commissioner Keith was that estimates were that there would only be about $6 million in collection overage. A Vision 2025 oversight board member estimates that the overage could be $150 million plus and other county officials give a modest estimate of $123 million. These numbers are all over the place and I believe the citizens should refuse a proposal of any new taxes until Vision 2025 funds have been satisfactorily accounted for.
So, what do we do? First we have to vote down the tax increase the county is seeking on April 1, forcing the county commissioners to go back to the drawing board and come up with a BETTER plan! We demand an accounting of all Vision 2025 sales tax collections and anticipated future collections. We bring the idea of using the overage from Vision 2025 to pay for the jail expansion and juvenile justice center to a vote of the people, allowing them a voice in how their tax dollars are spent. There will be much moaning and gnashing of teeth from city and county officials, the chamber of commerce and others that stand to benefit from the “NEW TAX” April 1 tax passing – you see, they believe they know how to spend your money better than you do and they have plans for that money.
Before you vote on April 1, ask yourself – is raising my taxes the BEST way to solve the needs of our community? Can this be done in a manner that doesn’t cost the tax payers additional money? I believe it can! Vote NO on April 1 – let’s send them back to the drawing board because Tulsa County CAN Do BETTER!
Posted by Ronda Vuillemont-Smith on Just Ronda