Oklahoma City voters approve $978 million of projects
Oklahoma City voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a 1-cent sales tax designed to finance $978 million of projects over eight years.
Metropolitan Area Projects, known informally as MAPS, is a pay-as-you-go program whose latest proposal to the voters was called MAPS 4.
Although voter turnout was light, as is typical for special elections, more than 70% of voters favored the latest installment.
“We've never been more united as one OKC,” said Mayor David Holt. “Over this last year, we worked together collaboratively as a community to find a common purpose. It reflects a diverse 650,000-person-strong city, and that's why the city embraced it in overwhelming numbers. ”
The first MAPS program passed in 1993, followed by MAPS for Kids in 2001, MAPS 3 in 2009. There have been other uses for all or part of the same penny traditionally used for the MAPS programs – including part of the current Better Streets, Safer City program – but only those four have been official MAPS initiatives.
The original MAPS program funded a minor league baseball ballpark in the Bricktown neighborhood downtown, along with a canal, a convention center, a trolley system, an arena for the Oklahoma City Thunder National Basketball Association team, and improvements to Fair Park. The original MAPS also had a use tax, which was deposited into a maintenance fund for the projects.
MAPS for Kids funded improvements to every public school serving students from Oklahoma City, including 70 new or renovated school buildings. Of the $700 million raised by the program, about $470 million was used for construction projects, $52 million for technology projects, $9 million for bus fleet replacement and $153 million for projects in 23 suburban districts serving OKC students.
MAPS 3 is still in construction, with some projects already finished. It raised about $805 million, well above the anticipated $777 million because of Oklahoma City’s strong economy at the time. The MAPS 3 use tax is used to replace equipment for the police and fire departments.
The city is able to avoid issuing bonds because each project begins after the tax brings in sufficient funds, officials said.