DALLAS — A two-part sales tax extension going to voters in Tulsa County, Okla., on Nov. 6 would generate $748.8 million over 13 years for economic development and capital improvement projects.
County commissioners voted unanimously Monday to ask voters to extend the existing Vision2025 0.6% sales tax, set to expire at the end of 2016, through the end of 2029.
The new Vision2 plan devotes $386.9 million to economic development, including $254 million of upgrades and improvements to aircraft maintenance facilities and equipment at Tulsa International Airport.
Tulsa County and its 10 cities would share $361.9 million of capital improvement funding, distributed by population.
The county is slated to receive a total of $92 million, with $158 million going to the city of Tulsa, $44.1 million to Broken Arrow, and $14.4 million for Owasso.
The existing Vision2025 tax has generated $451.5 million since collections began Jan. 1, 2004. The tax will expire Dec. 31, 2016, if it is not extended.
The 32 projects built through the Vision2025 plan have been financed with $467.7 million of proceeds from bonds issued by the county and various cities, and $74.7 million of direct appropriations. Most have been completed or are under way.
The Tulsa County Industrial Authority’s revenue bonds are rated AA-minus by Standard & Poor’s.
Don Walker, co-chair of the Vision2 effort and chief executive at Arvest Bank, said the improvements to be funded at the Tulsa airport are needed to retain the city’s aviation maintenance and repair industry.
“This is the right thing for citizens to do to support the improvement of facilities of the airport, to keep these jobs in Tulsa County,” Walker said at Monday’s meeting. “We want to keep a great thing going.”
The economic development funds dedicated to projects at the airport complex include $122 million for new facilities and infrastructure and $132 million for industrial equipment.
“Some of these facilities were built in World War II,” Walker said. “They are 70 years old. They are in terrible condition.”
The economic development portion includes $53 million of incentives to employers that bring new jobs to Tulsa.
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said the modernized facilities will allow aircraft maintenance companies at the airport to compete for international business.
“We want to make certain that our airport has the ability to service and maintain any airplane flown by any airline in this world,” Bartlett said. “We want them to come to Tulsa.”
In the election ordinance, the commissioners specified funding for a number of capital projects, including $38 million for a juvenile justice center, $12 million of improvements to Expo Square and the county fairgrounds, $10 million for levees along the Arkansas River and $7 million for parks.
The Vision2025 projects were to have cost almost $900 million, but a 0.4% sales tax to finance a $350 million aircraft assembly plant was not collected because Boeing Co. halted the project. Total cost of Vision2025 projects to date is $575.5 million, including $45.5 million of construction cost overruns at the BOK Center and convention center in downtown Tulsa.