Leave it to Bill.
Bill Leighty, that is. The local realtor, former Planning Commission member and all-around government gadfly has come up with a tool he thinks will help city officials figure out what should be included in the Vision 2025 renewal: a survey.
“Until everyone gets on the same page, it appears to me and my colleagues that this (Vision renewal) has little chance of passing without collaboration among the stakeholders to come up with something that could be supported by everyone,” Leighty said.
When Leighty talks about his “colleagues,” he’s talking about the 11-member advisory board of Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition, the grassroots organization he founded 18 months ago. The group advocates for sensible growth practices that expand mobility and transit options to help create economically viable and livable neighborhoods.
It’s Smart Growth Tulsa, not Leighty personally, that has put the survey online.
“They (survey participants) are being presented with a full menu of everything that has been proposed” for funding in the Vision renewal, Leighty said.
That includes the public safety tax proposed by Mayor Dewey Bartlett and City Councilor Karen Gilbert, the request from the Transportation Funding and Governance Task Force, the proposal to build dams in the Arkansas River and the more than $2 billion worth of other projects presented to the City Council and Bartlett during public hearings.
In all, city officials have at least $2.5 billion in projects before them with only $732 million in projected revenue available if the Vision renewal runs for 13 years, according to figures provided by the city.
The Smart Growth Tulsa survey, Leighty said, would allows participants “to make the hard choices just like the council.”
The City Council’s discussions thus far have assumed the proposed Vision 2025 sales tax renewal would be 0.6 percent — the same rate it is now.
The Smart Growth Tulsa survey gives participants the option of making the Vision tax a full penny.
Smart Growth Tulsa estimates the city would bring in about $600 million over 13 years with the 0.6 percent rate and $1 billion if the rate were a full penny, or 1 percent. Smart Growth Tulsa’s projected revenue figures differ slightly from the city’s.
Smart Growth also includes a spending option not presented to city councilors: a permanent 1/10th of a percent tax for parks.
City officials are scheduled to have the Vision renewal package finalized by Dec. 18., with the public vote tentatively scheduled for April 4.
Leighty says he won’t let city officials go into their final deliberations without knowing the results of the Smart Growth Tulsa Coalition survey.
“Our plan right now, first and foremost, is to bring the survey results in PDF and spreadsheet form to the City Council and the mayor,” Leighty said. “The more people that fill this out the more credibility it has.”