On Tuesday, Oklahoma City voters head to the polls to determine the fate of MAPS 3, the city's latest version of capital improvement projects.
The ballot contains one question: asking for voter approval or denial of extending an existing one-cent sales tax on all goods sold in Oklahoma City.
If approved, the tax would go into effect April 1, 2010, and expire on Jan. 1, 2018. It is expected to raise $777 million. The one-cent sales tax for capital improvements was first used in 1993 upon passage of the first MAPS proposal. All registered voters within Oklahoma City limits are eligible to vote.
PREVIOUS ONE-CENT SALES TAX PROJECTSMAPS: $309 million, approved 54 percent to 46 percent MAPS for Kids: $500 million, approved 61 percent to 39 percent Ford Center: projected $121 million, approved 62 percent to 38 percent
THE TWO SIDES
Supporters: MAPS 3 is heavily backed by Mayor Mick Cornett, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and seven of eight Oklahoma City Council members. A broad coalition of community groups is endorsing the proposal.
The MAPS 3 sales tax would pay for eight projects. There is no legal obligation as to what projects would be completed, or when or where they would be completed.
"The only parameters the mayor has laid out are that the park should be open by 2014 when the boulevard opens, which may place that project at or near the top of the chronological list, and that the convention center will probably come last, which means it probably wouldn't open for a decade or more," said David Holt, Mayor Mick Cornett's chief of staff. "The prioritization of everything else is a decision process we envision being guided by the Citizen Oversight Committee."
Cost: $130 million
The city would build a 70-acre park in the downtown area stretching from the current Interstate 40, which is scheduled to be torn down and replaced with a boulevard by 2014, to the Oklahoma River. The park design is at the concept phase, but plans include amenities like a café, lake and concert venue. Annual maintenance costs are estimated between $2 and $3 million, possibly shared between the city and a privately funded conservancy.
Cost: $130 million
To meet what many citizens believe is a pressing need, the city would put in place five to six miles of track for a downtown streetcar. It would link to major employers, business districts, attractions and residential communities near downtown. The mayor said it would be the building block for future mass transit development. While annual maintenance and operating costs are estimated between $2.9 to $3.4 million, City Manager Jim Couch has agreed to absorb $2 million of this project's annual operational costs into his general budget.
Cost: $280 million
The largest project of MAPS 3 is a new convention center. City leaders say the Cox Convention Center is getting too old, and a newer and bigger facility is needed to attract more and larger conventions. An exact location is not locked in " with four sites being considered " but most proposals have a new convention center sitting directly south of the Ford Center. Greater Oklahoma City Chamber officials insist the new convention center must have an adjoining hotel and are discussing building one in the future with various hotel chains.
Cost: $10 million
MAPS 3 would build 70 miles of sidewalks throughout the city. The plan is to construct sidewalks in strategically located areas, connecting residential areas to frequently used places like schools and libraries.
Cost: $40 million
The proposal would pay for 57 miles of new bicycling and walking trails, which are part of a master plan across the city with the intent of creating a healthier community.
Oklahoma River improvements
Cost: $60 million
A whitewater kayaking facility, which may be leased to and operated by a private entity, and rowing racecourse upgrades are the intent with this proposal. MAPS 3 improvements would also include grandstands, parking, a floating stage, better lighting and other river beautification enhancements.
Senior aquatic centers
Cost: $50 million
MAPS 3 proposes the construction of four or five health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens, which would be placed at various locations around the city. A sales tax rebate was given to seniors with the original MAPS but was not offered with MAPS for Kids or subsequent projects.
Oklahoma State Fairgrounds
Cost: $60 million
The proposal calls for upgrading and building new facilities at the fairgrounds. The plan is to consolidate some existing facilities to build a new exhibit hall capable of hosting larger events. In 2004, city patrons approved dedicating part of the city's hotel-motel tax to upgrading the fairgrounds' horse show facilities. That tax has brought in more than $23 million to date.
Cost: $17 million
MAPS 3 would also set aside $17 million in contingency funds. The unspecified money could be used in several ways, but Cornett said it has to go toward MAPS 3 projects. However, the ordinance does not list specific projects. "Scott Cooper
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