A divided Tulsa City Council last week delayed action on setting an election for a massive street maintenance program until the city attorney rules on the legality of putting two competing financial plans on the ballot.
Councilor Bill Martinson urged the council to adopt a $2 billion, 12-year program, financed in part with $770 million of general obligation bonds, but councilor G.T. Bynum successfully sponsored an amendment to the ordinance setting a November election on the longer package that would have given voters the option for a $451.6 million, five-year program.
The $2 billion street improvement plans includes $122 million in street widening projects and $281 million for other capital needs, including new buses for Tulsa Transit, upgrades to the city’s telecommunications system, and maintenance at city facilities.
The $770 million of street bonds would be supported by extending until 2021 a combined 1.76% sales tax that includes the city’s third-penny 1% sales tax that will expire in early 2013, Tulsa County’s 0.0167% Four-To-Fix II sales tax that will expire in 2012, and the countywide 0.6% Vision 2025 sales taxes set to expire at the end of 2016.
Financing for the shorter, less-expensive option includes $258 million of GOs.
In addition to the GOs, financing for the five-year plan would include $131 million generated by the city’s third-penny tax and $35.6 million from capturing the city’s share of the Four-To-Fix II sales tax.
The city’s GO debt is rated Aa2 by Moody’s Investors Service and AA by Standard & Poor’s.