Mayor Taylor Optimistic In State-of-the-City Address

Tulsa city officials are looking to tap into property taxes for a long-term revenue source, said Mayor Kathy Taylor during her state-of-the-city address on Tuesday.
“Tulsa is the only city that solely relies on sales tax to fund its general operations,” Taylor said in her speech to more than 600 at the DoubleTree Hotel at Warren Place. “We want to study how to find a long-term source of funding.”
The mayor touched on three areas during her first state-of-the-city address — economic development, education and public safety.
Since the 2 percent sales tax remains Tulsa’s only source of general operations income, Taylor sought an interim legislative study shortly after being sworn in to create a stable stream of income for Tulsa, said Darita Huckabee, legislative coordinator for the Indian Nations Council of Governments.
“The purpose was to begin the ground work of illustrating the fragility of city income,” Huckabee said.
Municipalities across the state rely on sales tax to fund operations. Only a small portion of property taxes is allowed to guarantee city bonds.
“This would make our revenue more stable,” Huckabee said.
Mayor Taylor talked about economic opportunities in Tulsa, saying, “We didn’t get here overnight, and our challenges won’t be conquered overnight.”
Investing in the education is important to ensuring the quality of the city’s future workforce which is central to Tulsa’s economic developement, Taylor said.
To help improve the drop out rate in Tulsa, which is twice the state average, Mayor Taylor commissioned a summit, Building a Safer Tulsa, to strategize against gang violence in the city. The summit will take place September 20th through the 21st, at which time plans for action against gang violence will be presented to the Mayor for implementation.
“I challenge each person in this room to sign up to read, to mentor, or to tutor a child,” Taylor said. “I am literally taking names.”
Taylor said she plans to levy city resources in support of early childhood education.
To attract a quality workforce and to anticipate economic development, Taylor said, Tulsa has to provide great quality of life. The BOK Event Center, which Taylor says is back on budget with the help of $16 million in additional private gifts, is a centerpiece to the improvement of the quality of life in Tulsa, Taylor said.
“We were built to compete shoulder to shoulder with the established economic capitals of this world, and we can do it again,” Taylor said.
Important also to economic development and attracting a young, quality workforce is to implement wireless technology throughout downtown, Taylor said. The wireless network will attract an innovative workforce as well as improve emergency services communications.
Public safety remains a concern to the mayor’s office. Taylor reports that the police and fire departments continue to struggle to retain and recruit officers because of low pay. Taylor proposes increases in the number of police academies and the rate of pay for officers.
Taylor said that to offer police competitive wages that her office would be making some “difficult choices within a finite city budget.”
In order to increase police wages and to continue to provide other public services, “areas that are non-core city services we’re going to have to take a hard look at continuing to provide,” Taylor said.
Taylor reports that negotiation of a pay raise of Tulsa police has been submitted to the Fraternal Order of Police. The FOP will vote whether or not to approve the award Monday, September 25.
Taylor is encouraged by river development plans like The Channels, presented to the public last week by Tulsa Stakeholders, Inc.
“We’ll analyze how we want to support river development,” Taylor said. “That plan is a bold plan, and a plan we should strongly consider.”
Taylor ended her address by encouraging Tulsans to work hard for the city and to take risks for the sake of future economic development in Tulsa.
“I challenge each Tulsan to rollup your sleeves and work with me as a team to make life better in our city,” Taylor said. “If you do, I’ll make you this guarantee: the future opportunities for Tulsa are limitless.”

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