Creeping back up. Continuing its slow but steady recovery from the recession, the city of Tulsa's sales tax receipts from the state Tax Commission this month were above projections and above the same period last year.
The amount of sales tax received for the last reporting period from the middle of October to the middle of November was slightly more than $16 million, an increase of more than $280,000, or 1.8 percent, from the approximately $15.8 million collected during the same period in 2009. The budget estimate for the period was a little more than $15 million.
Despite the increase, city officials cautioned that the most recent receipts were still less than those reported in the years before the recession.
"We are grateful to see these small increases in the past couple of months, but we must continue to find ways to economize and use our money wisely," Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. said. "The collection period reflected here was before Black Friday and before the Christmas shopping season really got rolling. We hope local merchants are having a good Christmas season and that we see another increase next month."
The mayor said the city still faces an uphill climb.
"Even when the economy was booming and sales tax revenues were higher, there were unfulfilled needs," he said. "We are now halfway through a second year of having less money in our budget, and so we continue to work to make city government more efficient and cost effective."
Mike Kier, the city's finance director, noted that while the monthly increases are encouraging, it is important to remember the city experienced 13 months of declining tax revenues, usually by 9 to 11 percent each month, and the city's general fund, which covers most of the cost of many vital services, including police and fire, is still much smaller than it was two years ago.
For the year to date, sales taxes received a total of a little more than $99 million. That is 2 percent more than the same period last year and 6.4 percent more than budget estimates.
Use tax collections for the month also exceeded last year's total for the same period by 29.2 percent. Taxes collected for the period came to more than $1.5 million, compared to almost $1.2 million for the same period last year.
However, city officials pointed out that use taxes, which are paid by corporations, can vary drastically from month to month. For the year to date, use tax collections are up by only 3 percent.
Snappy sonnets, enlightening essays. Local wordsmiths are being invited to enter the Friends of the Tulsa City-County Libraries' 34th annual Adult Creative Writing Contest for a chance to win cash.
The group sponsors the annual contest to give published and unpublished authors an outlet for their writing. The contest is open to anyone 18 years or older who lives, works or attends school in Tulsa County or who has a nonresident Tulsa City-County Library card. The deadline for entries is Jan. 31, 2011.
Submissions are welcome in the categories of poetry (400-word limit), informal essay (5,000-word limit), children's fiction (3,000-word limit) and short story (5,000-word limit).
A $100 cash prize, plus a book and certificate, are awarded to the best works in each category. Second-place winners receive a $50 cash prize, plus a book and certificate. Certificates are awarded to those receiving honorable mention. Individuals may submit one entry per category. Each entry must have a separate entry form and include a $6 entry fee.
Entry forms are available at all library branches or can be printed online at tulsalibrary.org/friends.
An awards ceremony honoring the winners will be held at 2:30pm on April 10, 2011 at the Central Library at 4th Street and Denver Avenue. Winners from each category will have the opportunity to read a short selection from their winning entry.
For more information about the contest, call Gretchen Hannefield at 918-549-7408.
Ramping it up. Tulsa's newest public park, SkateNorth, officially opened last week at 56th Street North and U.S. 75.
A variety of Park Department staffers and members of the Park Board were on hand for the Dec. 10 opening, which featured speeches and skaters demonstrating their moves. A more extensive grand opening celebration for the park is planned for March 2011.
Straight to the top. The Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women is accepting nominations for the 2011 Pinnacle Awards, which are intended to honor women who have made significant contributions in a variety of fields.
Honorees will be recognized at a dinner hosted by the commission and the Tulsa Woman's Foundation on March 8, 2011.
Honorees will be named in the categories of education, health, corporate/business, arts/humanities, and community service. Nominations also are being sought for the Rising Star category, an award designed to recognize women between the ages of 10 and 24 who have demonstrated leadership qualities and a commitment to service in the community.
The deadline for submissions is Dec. 31.
To download a nomination packet, visit cityoftulsa.org and search for Pinnacle Awards. Packets also can be obtained by mail or fax by calling Darlene Hall of the city's Human Rights Department at 918-596-2461.
The Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women was established in 1985 to provide women with a voice in government on issues that affect women, children and families in Tulsa.
Light those lights. Even though the Hospitality House of Tulsa kicked off its fourth annual "Room in the Inn, Room in Our Hearts" fundraiser with a holiday celebration on Dec. 7, it's not too late for area residents to contribute to the effort.
The Hospitality House of Tulsa serves as a home away from home for family members of people experiencing inpatient medical care at local hospitals. Many of those family members would be forced to sleep in waiting rooms or vehicles and eat out of vending machines were it not for the organization's efforts to provide them with more acceptable lodging.
As part of the fundraiser, community members can sponsor a Christmas light on the Hospitality House at 1135 S. Victor Ave. for $10, representing a night of lodging for a family. Each light may be dedicated to someone special, and a light will be illuminated in his or her honor.
Supporters can donate by texting "room" to 69302 and following the link to make a donation or by visiting tulsahospitalityhouse.com or by calling 918-794-0088.
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