DALLAS – The $918.7 million capital improvement bond referendum on Tulsa, Okla.’s Nov. 12 ballot will be will be identified as the “Improve Our Tulsa” measure.

The phrase was adopted Aug. 27 by a city council committee as the legal title on the referendum ballot and as a slogan for the election campaign. The council set the election Aug. 22 after approving the project list a week earlier.

“We can all refer to the same thing and get people used to that name,” said David Patrick, the councilman who chaired the committee.

“They don’t have to muddle through all the legal jargon on the ballot title,” he said.

The title for the capital program is “the icing on the cake,” Patrick said, after months of public meetings and presentations on the proposal.

The two propositions on the ballot include a request for $355 million of general obligation bonds and extension of an existing 1.1% sales tax expected to generate $563.7 million within seven years.

The extension would begin July 1, 2014 and continue for seven years or until the $563.7 million is collected. City officials expect the revenue threshold to be reached in six and a half years.

The combined package is the largest public works program in Tulsa’s history and its largest single allocation to street projects.

All the bond proceeds are dedicated to street repairs, and $300 million of the tax revenues are allocated to streets and other transportation needs.

Almost $650 million of the $918.7 million total is dedicated to transportation, including $470 million for street repairs and upgrades, $88 million for street widening, $28 million of bridge renovations, and $45 million for new buses. Another $23.4 million is allocated to new sidewalks and hike-and-bike trails.

The Improve Our Tulsa slogan was developed by Waller & Co. Public Relations through a series of polls and focus groups, said Barrett Waller.

“This (referendum) is about nuts and bolts,” said Waller. “Improve Our Tulsa is not just generic, it’s something that people can support and rally around.”

A capital program approved by voters in 2008 was titled Fix Our Streets, but the current proposal also funds other projects.

A slogan of Fix Our Streets and City was considered, Waller said, but that implied the city was broken.

The election is more than a slogan, Waller said.

“This package is about basic needs,” he said.
“The name won’t do all the work,” Waller said. “Improve Our Tulsa talks about basic needs, but also really wanting to move Tulsa forward.”

In addition to the transportation component, the program includes $34.9 million for parks and recreation, $24 million for planning and economic development, and $10 million for upgrades at the city-county public library as a match for private donations.

Tulsa's $481 million of outstanding GO debt is rated Aa1 by Moody's Investors Service and AA by Standard & Poor's.

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