POSTED ON APRIL 13, 2011:
Zoo Privatization Praised.
Tulsa's efforts to privatize the management of its zoo and other city facilities or functions has earned it recognition in the Reason Foundation's annual privatization report.
Terry Simonson, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s chief of staff, said he was leafing through foundation's annual report, as he does each year, and was surprised to see Tulsa cited, not just for its decision to privatize the management of the zoo, but also for its efforts to privatize the collection of its sales tax from local businesses, a proposal to privatize the city's parking meter operation and a potential public-private partnership of management of the city's Performing Arts Center.
"I guess we got the attention of one of the premier foundations in the country," Simonson said.
The Reason Foundation -- a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization that espouses values of individual freedom and choice, limited government and market-friendly policies -- publishes Reason magazine and has been endorsed by the likes of the late economist and Nobel Prize winner Milton Friedman, as well as The Wall Street Journal.
Bartlett said he was very pleased to see the city recognized by the Reason Foundation.
"It is very gratifying that an organization respected across the country for decades like the Reason Foundation would select Tulsa as exemplifying some of the best practices in the country for managing a city during these turbulent times," he said. "Though my administration has only been in office for 14 months, this recognition confirms my conservative beliefs that we are going in the right direction and making the right decisions with our policies and practices."
FILE PHOTO/GAVIN ELLIOTT
Simonson said the city's decision last year to enter into a partnership with Tulsa Zoo Friends to manage the zoo under the auspices of Tulsa Zoo Management Inc. already is paying off.
"I think that's got success written all over it," he said.
Meanwhile, the city continues to pursue legislative and legal options in its effort to privatize the collection of sales tax, and Simonson noted the city had not suffered a setback on either of those fronts.
Sales Tax Shows Slight Increase.
Tulsa's slow emergence from the economic downturn has continued with the city's announcement last week that sales tax receipts for the period from the middle of February to the middle of March were slightly higher than for the same period last year.
The sales tax figure, as reported by the state Tax Commission, was a little more than $15.5 million -- 0.14 percent more than a slightly less than $15.5 million reported a year ago. That was a small hike compared to the last four months -- when the increases over the previous year's take ranged from 5.9 percent to 1.8 percent -- but it was a healthy increase over the approximately $15.2 million that city officials had projected for the month.
Since the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1, 2010, Tulsa has taken in more than $166,000 in sales tax, a 2.45 percent increase over the more than $162 million received through the same point last year.
The news was much better on the use tax front, where the city's disbursement from the Tax Commission was more than $1.4 million, almost 28 percent more than approximately $1.1 million received during the same period last year.
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