Sales Tax Revenues Are Up, But Not to 2008 Levels
Tulsa's sales tax collections are up 4.7 percent compared to last year, for the period from mid-May to mid-June, according to the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Tulsa received $17,120,560, compared to $16,349,927 during the same period last year. Revenues were three percent above expected collections.
Not so fast, though. When measured against July 2008 revenues, Tulsa's sales and use taxes are still down 7.4 percent or $1.3 million.
Still, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. said, "This is a good start to the fiscal year."
The trend is statewide. Oklahoma's June tax collections totaled 15.7 percent or $78.1 million above June 2010, according to an announcement by State Finance director Preston Doerflinger.
The state's revenue collections are still much lower than pre-2008 numbers. This fiscal year's revenues came in at 14.2 percent below 2008.
More City Charter and Freedom of Speech More Squabbling
Councilor Bill Christiansen started a fire on the Fourth of July when he issued a statement asking Bartlett to throw out his executive order prohibiting city employees from campaigning during their off-time.
Christiansen, a former Marine, evoked heavy-handed patriotic overtones writing, "This very day, several city of Tulsa employees are serving our country overseas in areas of active combat."
The District 8 councilor, who is not seeking re-election, said he was disappointed in the mayor for "denying all city employees their First Amendment rights by prohibiting their political activity."
And at first blush, Bartlett's order does appear to step on the toes of city employees' personal lives. However, sections of the city charter indicate that those in "classified service" or part of the fire department shouldn't take "an active part in any campaign for the election of officers of the city, except to vote and privately state a personal opinion."
The mayor is not up for re-election until 2013, however, the recent squabbles between city hall and city council may be a reason for the deep attentiveness to the charter.
Former Mayor Kathy Taylor was more flexible in her interpretation, and allowed off-duty and out-of-uniform city workers to campaign.
In his release, Christiansen continued, stating he was "appalled" that Bartlett "would even consider denying the constitutional rights of our hard-working employees for his own personal gain."
Exploiting hard-working people for personal gain? Nah. We've never heard of a politician doing that before.
Survey Shows Support for Transit Expansion
The result of INCOG's latest survey show 43 percent of Tulsa and surrounding area residents want buses available in more areas.
A similar percent want the option of having a light rail available for commutes.
A majority of residents (65 percent) said they would pay $40 for a monthly unlimited transit pass if options and transit amenities were improved.
About 2,000 people took the 10-question INCOG survey, which is part of the public outreach phase of the FAST Forward program, the first-ever regional transit system planning process for the area.
Area residents came on board the FAST Forward Transit Lab, a retired 40-foot city bus outfitted with information on public transit, to voice their opinions on the topic. The "Lab" made 117 stops in 13 cities in Tulsa and surrounding communities.
Check out the survey and information at fastforwardplan.org.
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