Food Fight. State Rep. Seneca Scott, D-Tulsa, who has made the fight to increase the availability of healthy food to Oklahomans living in underserved areas one of the priorities of his legislative career, plans to seek new legislation during the upcoming session to assist in that effort.
Last year, Scott authored a successful measure designated as the Oklahoma Agricultural Linked Deposit Act that created a low-interest loan program for those interested in opening corner grocery stores that sell healthy and nutritious food as part of the effort to eliminate the state's "food deserts" -- areas in which residents do not have easy access to that kind of food.
While Scott said last week he was still working on the specifics of the new bill, he envisioned it being something that would make loan money available to mobile vendors who are willing to travel to underserved areas to sell healthy food. Scott compared the concept to healthy corner stores on wheels, much like taco trucks except they would sell fresh produce, breads, meats and dairy products.
The idea for the measure came from a conversation Scott said he had with a Tulsa Housing Authority official, who was lamenting the fact that many residents of THA properties have no transportation and are forced to rely on a convenience store-and-fast food diet.
"This would be a mobile health truck that is capable of hitting several different locations several times a week," Scott said. "It would go to customer bases."
More Money. Tulsa received more good news last week in regard to its sales tax collections for the period ranging from the middle of November to the middle of December, taking in 5.9 percent more revenue than it did for the same period a year ago.
Tulsa's January sales tax disbursement from the state Tax Commission was more than $17.9 million, compared to more than $16.9 million for the same period from 2009. For budgeting purposes, city officials had estimated the city would take in approximately $16.1 million.
"That's good news, and, with the consensus of the City Council, we have implemented several budget amendments to restore employee pay, cut furlough days, add a planning director and more," Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. said. "But it is important to note that while our year-to-date tax revenues are slightly above this time last year, when we were in the depths of the recession, we are still down by more than $11.5 million from where we were two years ago."
The city has taken in more than $117 million in sales taxes for the year to date. That compares to the approximately $128.5 million the city had received at the same point in 2009, an approximate 9 percent reduction.
City finance director Mike Kier said use tax collections also are slightly more than budget projections and last year's numbers. The city received more than $1.7 million use taxes for the month compared to more than $1.3 million for the same period a year ago. Year to date, Tulsa has collected more than $10.1 million in use taxes, approximately 6.5 percent more than the same period a year ago.
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