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  1. #1

    Default For many, MAPS is causing a decrease in quality of life

    As we prepare for a MAPS4 vote this December it is important to consider that while the MAPS programs have brought many positive changes to the city, they do not occur in a vacuum; our commitment to these capital projects programs results in a decrease in the amount of services the city can provide to its residents. While city operations and maintenance of our collective assets is never as fun to observe as a ribbon cutting for a shiny new project, they are crucial to our quality of life.

    While certain MAPS projects have increased the quality of life of OKC residents (most significantly trails, sidewalks and senior wellness centers IMO), what if those benefits came at a cost of not being able to provide adequate city services? What if part of the reason that we have been such an outlier over the last decade in terms of failing to provide Sunday and evening public transit, inadequate street and park maintenance, and operating with insufficient numbers of public safety personnel was that the City was starving its Departments in order to accommodate placing almost 50% of the sales tax we allocate to all Departments in our General Fund towards the MAPS programs.

    Particularly during the last ten years (the MAPS3 era), the City has kept the sales tax rate to fund city services artificially low (compared to other cities in OK) in order to accommodate a one-cent MAPS tax. City government is the branch of government that affects our day-to-day lives the most and by starving city departments (such as parks and recreation, public transit, public works, planning, development and police/fire), or bringing capital projects online which require operations costs to be diverted from other city services because no source of operations funding was planned at the time of passage, the MAPS program indirectly diminishes our quality of life.


    Oklahoma City is an outlier among large cities in the U.S. in terms of its reliance on sales tax to fund City operations; anything that decreases OKC sales tax will have an outsized influence on the amount of city services delivered and our quality of life.


    Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow municipalities to fund operations with property tax. This is the principle reason that sales tax plays such an outsized role in funding city services.


    The capital and operations budgets of most of the City's departments are funded through the General Fund and sales tax is, by far, the largest revenue source for the General Fund.









    The sales tax rate in Oklahoma City is 8.625% (with 4.5% going to the State and 4.125% going to the City (there is also a county tax for those who live in Cleveland and Canadian County) which was raised in January 2019 from 3.875% due to a 0.25% increase approved by voters in 2018. Oklahoma City divides that 4.125% as follows:









    Initiative Petitions in previous decades created a dedicated funding source for the Zoo of 1/8 cent and for police/fire of ¾ cent, which cannot be altered except through an additional vote of the people. Think about that for a moment; the City of OKC has a dedicated funding source for the zoo, but not for public transit or parks. The Council approved a resolution that a ¼ cent increase in the sales tax going towards the General Fund starting in January 2019 would essentially all be spent on police/fire. While that helped increase police and fire staffing levels, it did nothing to help alleviate inadequate funding of Departments outside of Public Safety.


    Roughly 2/3s of the General Fund is spent on public safety and since one full cent is dedicated to public safety (the ¾ cent tax passed by initiative petition which is split evenly between police and fire, and the recently passed ¼ cent addition) decreases in sales tax (such as the two year decline in sales tax in fiscal year ’16 and ’17) will be felt disproportionately by the other City Departments; this means layoffs, decreased services and self-defeating policies such as travel bans.













    When one compares the sales tax rate for Oklahoma City to other cities in Oklahoma, and subtracts the one-cent dedicated to capital projects in the MAPS program, it becomes clear that OKC has a sales tax rate much lower than other cities:


    OKC 3.125% (MAPS tax removed; this was 2.875% until January 2019)

    Edmond 3.75%

    Lawton 4.5%

    Moore 4.0%

    McAlester 5.25%

    Norman 4.25%

    Tulsa 4.017%

    Yukon 4.35%


    In March 2019 the sales tax for general fund was $19.39 million and the sales tax allocated to the MAPS tax (“Better Streets/Safer City”) was $8.63 million. In other words, approximately 55% of the sales tax that the City collects is dedicated to the General Fund and 24% is dedicated to the MAPS capital projects (2.25/4.125=54.5% and 1/4.125=24.2%).


    The ¼ cent increase in the sales tax, which began on 1 January 2019 and which the council has dedicated to public safety is estimated to generate $28 million/year.


    So, going forward, if the MAPS program was decreased by ¼ cent and that ¼ cent was redirected towards City services other than police/fire, which has already been addressed by the voters, one would see game-changing alterations in the services the City provides to its residents.


    For years, including throughout essentially the entirety of the MAPS programs, OKC was the largest city in the U.S. without Sunday or evening bus service. It is unfathomable that a city of our size would deprive its people of public transit on Sundays and evenings and only provide service once an hour on Saturdays. In a City deemed by Prevention Magazine to be the worst in the entire country for pedestrians, with absolute minimal infrastructure for bicyclists and suffering the highest bicyclist fatality rate in the U.S., along with a 620 sq mile sprawling autocentric city design, the lack of Sunday/evening bus service deserves the strongest rebuke. Given that some $3 million/year made Sunday and evening bus service possible, it is easy to see how making the MAPS program 25-50% smaller would have a massive impact on the daily lives of people throughout the city.


    During the MAPS3 years, particularly FY ’16 and ’17 where the city saw the first consecutive two year decline in sales tax revenue in 30 years, employee layoffs, travel bans and cuts in services were all implemented which would have not been necessary but for the largesse of the MAPS program.


    Keep in mind that each and every MAPS project, which is capital in nature, could be placed on a General Obligation Bond and paid for with our property tax. This is how we build many things and how we funded large capital projects almost exclusively prior to the MAPS programs. In other words, decreasing the size of the MAPS programs does not mean that we are not ultimately able to complete those capital projects.


    According to the 2013 Parks Master Plan, Oklahoma City only spends 28% of what a typical city spends on parks maintenance ($1421 per acre per year compared to an average of $5,000 at the time of the report. Citizens expressed a C minus-rated level of satisfaction (71%) with parks maintenance and D minus-rated level of satisfaction (60%) with walking and biking trails and paths (these satisfaction figures are sourced from the 2016 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, page iii).

    Again, with a total annual budget of $26 million, relatively small decreases in the size of the MAPS program would lead to substantial increases in the level of service the City could provide its people through the parks department. Most city parks do not have restroom facilities or adequate trash facilities and these are among the most egregious examples of MAPS causing inadequate spending on our facilities.





    Finally, it is important to remember that no funding source for the operations of the MAPS3 projects was identified at the time of its passage a decade ago. While partners were secured for Senior Wellness Centers, there was no mechanism identified to pay the annual $3 million operations budget of the streetcar, nor of the $3-4 million it will take to operate the new downtown Scissortail Park, nor the operations of the Convention Center etc.… Absent a funding source for the operations of these MAPS projects which continue to come online, money is simply diverted away from existing services as there is no increase in the size of City Department budgets.


    After years discussing and trying to design a MAPS for Neighborhoods, my conclusion is that the best MAPS for Neighborhoods program is to end MAPS or significantly decrease its size and equilibrate our sales tax rate with other cities in Oklahoma. Decreasing the size of a MAPS4 program and redirecting those savings into departments such as Public Works, Planning, Parks and Recreation, Development and Public Transit is the most effective path towards obtaining the greatest increase in the quality of life for the greatest number of people throughout the entirety of the city.

  2. #2

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Bruh, your title is grossly misleading.

  3. #3

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Shadid View Post
    As we prepare for a MAPS4 vote this December it is important to consider that while the MAPS programs have brought many positive changes to the city, they do not occur in a vacuum; our commitment to these capital projects programs results in a decrease in the amount of services the city can provide to its residents. While city operations and maintenance of our collective assets is never as fun to observe as a ribbon cutting for a shiny new project, they are crucial to our quality of life.

    While certain MAPS projects have increased the quality of life of OKC residents (most significantly trails, sidewalks and senior wellness centers IMO), what if those benefits came at a cost of not being able to provide adequate city services? What if part of the reason that we have been such an outlier over the last decade in terms of failing to provide Sunday and evening public transit, inadequate street and park maintenance, and operating with insufficient numbers of public safety personnel was that the City was starving its Departments in order to accommodate placing almost 50% of the sales tax we allocate to all Departments in our General Fund towards the MAPS programs.

    Particularly during the last ten years (the MAPS3 era), the City has kept the sales tax rate to fund city services artificially low (compared to other cities in OK) in order to accommodate a one-cent MAPS tax. City government is the branch of government that affects our day-to-day lives the most and by starving city departments (such as parks and recreation, public transit, public works, planning, development and police/fire), or bringing capital projects online which require operations costs to be diverted from other city services because no source of operations funding was planned at the time of passage, the MAPS program indirectly diminishes our quality of life.


    Oklahoma City is an outlier among large cities in the U.S. in terms of its reliance on sales tax to fund City operations; anything that decreases OKC sales tax will have an outsized influence on the amount of city services delivered and our quality of life.


    Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow municipalities to fund operations with property tax. This is the principle reason that sales tax plays such an outsized role in funding city services.


    The capital and operations budgets of most of the City's departments are funded through the General Fund and sales tax is, by far, the largest revenue source for the General Fund.









    The sales tax rate in Oklahoma City is 8.625% (with 4.5% going to the State and 4.125% going to the City (there is also a county tax for those who live in Cleveland and Canadian County) which was raised in January 2019 from 3.875% due to a 0.25% increase approved by voters in 2018. Oklahoma City divides that 4.125% as follows:









    Initiative Petitions in previous decades created a dedicated funding source for the Zoo of 1/8 cent and for police/fire of ¾ cent, which cannot be altered except through an additional vote of the people. Think about that for a moment; the City of OKC has a dedicated funding source for the zoo, but not for public transit or parks. The Council approved a resolution that a ¼ cent increase in the sales tax going towards the General Fund starting in January 2019 would essentially all be spent on police/fire. While that helped increase police and fire staffing levels, it did nothing to help alleviate inadequate funding of Departments outside of Public Safety.


    Roughly 2/3s of the General Fund is spent on public safety and since one full cent is dedicated to public safety (the ¾ cent tax passed by initiative petition which is split evenly between police and fire, and the recently passed ¼ cent addition) decreases in sales tax (such as the two year decline in sales tax in fiscal year ’16 and ’17) will be felt disproportionately by the other City Departments; this means layoffs, decreased services and self-defeating policies such as travel bans.













    When one compares the sales tax rate for Oklahoma City to other cities in Oklahoma, and subtracts the one-cent dedicated to capital projects in the MAPS program, it becomes clear that OKC has a sales tax rate much lower than other cities:


    OKC 3.125% (MAPS tax removed; this was 2.875% until January 2019)

    Edmond 3.75%

    Lawton 4.5%

    Moore 4.0%

    McAlester 5.25%

    Norman 4.25%

    Tulsa 4.017%

    Yukon 4.35%


    In March 2019 the sales tax for general fund was $19.39 million and the sales tax allocated to the MAPS tax (“Better Streets/Safer City”) was $8.63 million. In other words, approximately 55% of the sales tax that the City collects is dedicated to the General Fund and 24% is dedicated to the MAPS capital projects (2.25/4.125=54.5% and 1/4.125=24.2%).


    The ¼ cent increase in the sales tax, which began on 1 January 2019 and which the council has dedicated to public safety is estimated to generate $28 million/year.


    So, going forward, if the MAPS program was decreased by ¼ cent and that ¼ cent was redirected towards City services other than police/fire, which has already been addressed by the voters, one would see game-changing alterations in the services the City provides to its residents.


    For years, including throughout essentially the entirety of the MAPS programs, OKC was the largest city in the U.S. without Sunday or evening bus service. It is unfathomable that a city of our size would deprive its people of public transit on Sundays and evenings and only provide service once an hour on Saturdays. In a City deemed by Prevention Magazine to be the worst in the entire country for pedestrians, with absolute minimal infrastructure for bicyclists and suffering the highest bicyclist fatality rate in the U.S., along with a 620 sq mile sprawling autocentric city design, the lack of Sunday/evening bus service deserves the strongest rebuke. Given that some $3 million/year made Sunday and evening bus service possible, it is easy to see how making the MAPS program 25-50% smaller would have a massive impact on the daily lives of people throughout the city.


    During the MAPS3 years, particularly FY ’16 and ’17 where the city saw the first consecutive two year decline in sales tax revenue in 30 years, employee layoffs, travel bans and cuts in services were all implemented which would have not been necessary but for the largesse of the MAPS program.


    Keep in mind that each and every MAPS project, which is capital in nature, could be placed on a General Obligation Bond and paid for with our property tax. This is how we build many things and how we funded large capital projects almost exclusively prior to the MAPS programs. In other words, decreasing the size of the MAPS programs does not mean that we are not ultimately able to complete those capital projects.


    According to the 2013 Parks Master Plan, Oklahoma City only spends 28% of what a typical city spends on parks maintenance ($1421 per acre per year compared to an average of $5,000 at the time of the report. Citizens expressed a C minus-rated level of satisfaction (71%) with parks maintenance and D minus-rated level of satisfaction (60%) with walking and biking trails and paths (these satisfaction figures are sourced from the 2016 Citizen Satisfaction Survey, page iii).

    Again, with a total annual budget of $26 million, relatively small decreases in the size of the MAPS program would lead to substantial increases in the level of service the City could provide its people through the parks department. Most city parks do not have restroom facilities or adequate trash facilities and these are among the most egregious examples of MAPS causing inadequate spending on our facilities.





    Finally, it is important to remember that no funding source for the operations of the MAPS3 projects was identified at the time of its passage a decade ago. While partners were secured for Senior Wellness Centers, there was no mechanism identified to pay the annual $3 million operations budget of the streetcar, nor of the $3-4 million it will take to operate the new downtown Scissortail Park, nor the operations of the Convention Center etc.… Absent a funding source for the operations of these MAPS projects which continue to come online, money is simply diverted away from existing services as there is no increase in the size of City Department budgets.


    After years discussing and trying to design a MAPS for Neighborhoods, my conclusion is that the best MAPS for Neighborhoods program is to end MAPS or significantly decrease its size and equilibrate our sales tax rate with other cities in Oklahoma. Decreasing the size of a MAPS4 program and redirecting those savings into departments such as Public Works, Planning, Parks and Recreation, Development and Public Transit is the most effective path towards obtaining the greatest increase in the quality of life for the greatest number of people throughout the entirety of the city.

    IMO, He makes a cogent argument for several things, funding City departments via property tax, reduction in Maps project fund allocation and increasing sales tax rate to match other Oklahoma cites. I don't have a vote, but if I did I could (absent any counter facts) embrace his proposals.


    This is troubling, if true


    While partners were secured for Senior Wellness Centers, there was no mechanism identified to pay the annual $3 million operations budget of the streetcar, nor of the $3-4 million it will take to operate the new downtown Scissortail Park, nor the operations of the Convention Center etc.

  4. #4

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Ed,

    Great post and I agree. I was recently harping on why we just approved $2,500,000 on more streetcar parts when we got parts as part of our $140,000,000 initial buy. And we have a warranty. I was chastised here for even questioning it.

    My point matches yours in that the MAPS bills are all going to come due. The cost of not only upkeep (which you covered) but the upgrades is going to bust our bank. The first MAPS were built in the 90’s and there will be higher cost needs in future, just to keep on standards.

    Then the streetcar. To me that was/is the biggest waste of money. Its a money pit and yet people want to expand it. In 5 years the existing SC will have upgrade/upkeep costs that will not be cheap let alone expand it. How great would our bus system be had we put $140,000,000 in it instead. We could have bus hubs all around the metro. Then could have bought luxury mini vans or buses to run around downtown every 5 minutes plus ability to adjust routes based on future growth changes. We are too large to expand SC and can not afford to do SC expansions.

    Then you have the regional transit pipedream. They will want and need a tax to pay for it. So how high can we keep increasing our taxes? And the kicker is we are in the longest economic expansion in our lives. But in due time maybe 2-5 years our economy will take a break. As taxes go down and costs go up we are gonna be a broke city with everyone wondering what happened.

    We simply cannot afford all these “dreams” that a smaller segment of our metro is trying to force feed the rest of city.

    The wellness centers are one of the great stories but there are not enough projects like that. Our roads are pathetic. Still bad bus service. Even the city pothole patrol is now taking months when it used to take a few days. Likely budget cuts to feed MAPS. I had to get a city Dept Director involved to fix a bad pothole after trying for over 3 months on OKC Connect and calling to no avail. And again I placed a tree limb obstruction OKC Connect ticket and had to call after 2 months. This one obscured the flashing school zone sign! What if a kid got hit because a driver wasn’t aware? My point os our city services have gone to crap yet now we are trying to invent new things to spend money on or expand a money pit SC system which is mainly a great bar hopping service (hey, it had highest ise for St Pats day).

    I do know I am ready to vote my councilman out at next election unless he starts fighting for the forgotten 80% rest of OKC. MAPS has helped our city grow but it has now outgrown its use. We need to only pass projects by a vote of the people and only 1 project per vote. So if they want 5 projects thats separate votes.

    You are not alone in your thinking. We need to start respecting the other parts of our infrastructure including bus and roads. A majority of metro still needs roads to do most anything.

  5. #5

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Agreed that good points are brought up but the problem isn't MAPS, it's the silly property tax rules that are the ultimate basis for city and state revenue problems.

    Short but sweet, the title of this thread is just outright stupid. I've lived outside OKC for 30 years but still visit almost monthly. Maybe people who live in OKC daily don't see it but OKC has completely transformed since MAPS started. OKC now has good things and having good things cost money. I'm not sure if Mr. Shadid just doesn't like having good things or if some of you are just of the mindset that if "l don't use it so l don't want to pay for it." Lots of other people use those things you all think is a waste. Those things also give OKC an image that was rock-bottom but is now far better. There have been multiple billions invested in the city. The city center is being rebuilt. Are there things outside downtown that need to be done? Sure, but you have to start somewhere. I believe the citizens voted hundreds of millions for street repairs and improvements. There has been a MAPS for kids and there are senior centers being built so the outer ares are not completely ignored.
    To improve the other areas, you have to make it more desirable to live inward, which is starting. The city also needs to do a much better job of attracting outside Angel investing for redevelopment. The city should make it a bit more difficult for outward expansion.
    As the old saying goes, lead, follow or get out of the way. Just don't be an obstructionist whiner and if you are outvoted, live with it. If it's just too much to handle? Leave.

  6. Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    When I worked at Pitney Bowes (as a sys admin for the software developers) a long time ago, they had to start a program called "Fix the Basics", and that's truly what it was. There were all kinds of fancy things happening and nice new shiny things going on, but they had problems with the basics such as old outdated hardware, dead printers, bad infrastructure, non-working lights and water fountains, etc. They really needed to go back and fix the basics and build up again from the bottom and make sure the foundation that supported all the fancy new things was secure. OKC needs the same thing. Our streets are sh*t WRT potholes, lane markings, signage, etc., our social services aren't much better, our public transit sucks (but it's getting better thanks to Ed and a few others), and on and on. We really need to go back and fix the basics before we keep moving on with the big new shiny "Oh, cool" type of things, IMO. Of course, none of the basics are sexy and appealing, so it's an uphill battle. Yeah, we have tons of new cool restaurants, but we also have huge food deserts (read the latest Gazette cover story for that, it's been a problem for decades, especially for the NE side) and lots of hungry people, we also have quite a few homeless that need to be helped, we're #1 in incarcerating women (and probably overall too, haven't researched that to make sure, though), and quite a few of those incarcerations for both men and women are basically for piddly sh*t that they shouldn't be jailed for (although that's changing a bit with the last couple of elections), etc.

  7. #7

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    Agreed that good points are brought up but the problem isn't MAPS, it's the silly property tax rules that are the ultimate basis for city and state revenue problems.

    Short but sweet, the title of this thread is just outright stupid. I've lived outside OKC for 30 years but still visit almost monthly. Maybe people who live in OKC daily don't see it but OKC has completely transformed since MAPS started. OKC now has good things and having good things cost money. I'm not sure if Mr. Shadid just doesn't like having good things or if some of you are just of the mindset that if "l don't use it so l don't want to pay for it." Lots of other people use those things you all think is a waste. Those things also give OKC an image that was rock-bottom but is now far better. There have been multiple billions invested in the city. The city center is being rebuilt. Are there things outside downtown that need to be done? Sure, but you have to start somewhere. I believe the citizens voted hundreds of millions for street repairs and improvements. There has been a MAPS for kids and there are senior centers being built so the outer ares are not completely ignored.
    To improve the other areas, you have to make it more desirable to live inward, which is starting. The city also needs to do a much better job of attracting outside Angel investing for redevelopment. The city should make it a bit more difficult for outward expansion.
    As the old saying goes, lead, follow or get out of the way. Just don't be an obstructionist whiner and if you are outvoted, live with it. If it's just too much to handle? Leave.
    I agree with the first part but my contention is we did improve our core by a thousand times from the late 80’s. But we are at a crossroads and have to take a break from bundle projects. Its ok to still want projects but we need to slow our roll and be more selective in them. What we need now is a MAPS for the rest of the city. The first 2 letters of MAPS stands for Metropolitan Area. That does not mean solely downtown.

    Some keep forgetting we are a spread out city so saying build from the inside out makes no sense. We already built outward and those fine folks are just as intregral as the downtowners. We need to embrace what we are not what some want us to be. The rest of the city has been neglected and we need to now find a balance. Its like you are saying move downtown or else you don’t matter and your voice is moot. Instead of saying build inside out I say lets take care of all of OKC instead of a select group downtown.

    After almost 30 years of focusing on downtown we have not only caught up we have surpassed other same sized cities imo. The park and convention and OMNI will add even more value once opened. But then we need to pause on bundles and figure out what projects we need and put less of them to individual votes. And start spending on core items and services. Plus figuring out how to pay for upkeep and upgrades to what we do have downtown.

    To be honest there is more population and business growth away from downtown too and those folks are gonna want to live close enough to their work. An example is Paycom in far NE OKC. Its creating mega growth in housing and shopping and other things. Yet the roads near by have not been touched to speak of and it needs to be addressed. But since all the extra monies are drained for MAPS type projects none is left. At some point us not spending to take care of these other areas will stagnate travel and growth ability and the 80% of non downtowners standard of living. They matter too. Unless we build another massive Devin downtown most of the growth downtown is tourists.

    We need to regroup because even one more big bundled MAPS could be the tipping point where we will have to massively raise taxes to pay for past MAPS, new MAPS, RTA initiatives and then all the neglected infrastructure of 600 square miles of city plus services.

    MAPS has done wonders and did make us a great city. Now its time to regroup and go forward smartly.

  8. Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    I would disagree whole heartedly on the points that the programs didn't add quality. I would say they were integral parts of causing the changes that we now are experiencing. Especially the first round was HUGELY impactful in kicking off a change in the city and a change in the perception of OKC to outsiders. We're continuing to see the results of that transformation as other things develop. I would argue that the financial changes from those programs are absolutely in the positive as well.

    I would like to see the next phase spend effort outside of downtown. With what we've done so far, i think we've given plenty of momentum to sustain that for quite a while. But i do agree that we need to get sidewalks on all main streets. I'm not personally a fan of bikes being on roads, so you wont get me there. And if you want buses on Sundays, then take that up with Embark. If we dont have the riders to sustain it, then why would they want to lose money on it? I dont want to be subsidizing that either, Either it's a private company and they get to make that call, or take it all back public, but pick one.

    And we have that big General Fund pool because we dont have endowments or designated funds to maintain what we have. Not everything can self-support like the 'Peake. The canal doesn't make money, so if we want to keep it running, then we need general funds. The LAST thing i would want to see is funds being designated all over the budget. That just ends up pulling money into pools and it's never where you need it.

  9. #9

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    the entire premise of this thread is simply not true

  10. Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Fix it all with a couple of years of MAPS tax that funds an endowment to support those projects that need support. It doesn't have to be complicated.

  11. #11

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Bellaboo View Post
    Fix it all with a couple of years of MAPS tax that funds an endowment to support those projects that need support. It doesn't have to be complicated.
    OKC has a massive city budget and overall the citizens are very happy with the services they receive ..

    this reminds me of when ED ran for Mayor his basic campaign message was vote for me and i will fix our terrible city ..... which didn't work very well when the huge majority thought things were going pretty great ..


    this also should very much be in the politics section

  12. #12

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    The problem is that this makes it seem like a zero sum game, like if money wasn't spend on maps it would have gone to other city services (the money wouldn't have likely existed). Additionally, it ignores the increased revenues that MAPS project contribute too. When we have more employers moving to OKC, and more sales tax revenues being generated. Would those sales tax revenue increases have happened without MAPS? That's additional recurring revenue.

    (As for anyone feeling chastised for questions - excuse my why I marvel at the martyrdom being displayed. If you ask the same question 15 times and just keep ignoring the direct answers and responding with the same question, then yes, people will chastise you. Folks don't like wasting time.)

  13. #13

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by BoulderSooner View Post
    this also should very much be in the politics section
    This.

    I applaud Ed for raising what are very legitimate concerns regarding the city's issues with funding vital city services. But I find it incredibly dubious to argue there is a causal relationship between the existence of MAPS and this lack of funding and believe its much more likely that if MAPS did not exist the city would still have issues adequately funding these services (because we're Oklahoma and we don't like paying for these things) and we would not have all of the benefits that MAPS have provided over the last 20+ years.

    OKC's sales tax including MAPS is still lower than the other large cities in Oklahoma, which seems to suggest that instead of MAPS being the issue, city leadership has made a policy decision (possibly unwisely, I would agree) to have a lower sales tax than our "peer" Oklahoma cities regardless of MAPS. Would seem the solution that could make everyone happier (except taxpayers that enjoy paying the lowest possible amount of taxes - good thing there aren't too many of those people in Oklahoma!) would be to keep MAPS and increase the sales tax to be in line with other cities, using that additional revenue to address issues raised by Ed. Seems like a better approach than attacking MAPS and arguing our city is in the dumps (which as BoulderSooner alluded to, has not been a successful strategy in the past and I can say that it least for me, it won't be for the foreseeable future).

    Also, the headline/thread title is laughable and completely undermines the argument (though this is common with headlines, so I suppose it is what it is).

  14. #14

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by BoulderSooner View Post
    this also should very much be in the politics section
    I hope not. This is the type of thread that it seems like OKCTalk exists for, IMO, and shouldn't be relegated to the politics ghetto. Even if you disagree with the premise or the poster.

  15. #15

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    It does not belong in the politics section at all, so let's move on from that discussion.

  16. #16

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by OKC Guy View Post
    I agree with the first part but my contention is we did improve our core by a thousand times from the late 80’s. But we are at a crossroads and have to take a break from bundle projects. Its ok to still want projects but we need to slow our roll and be more selective in them. What we need now is a MAPS for the rest of the city. The first 2 letters of MAPS stands for Metropolitan Area. That does not mean solely downtown.

    Some keep forgetting we are a spread out city so saying build from the inside out makes no sense. We already built outward and those fine folks are just as intregral as the downtowners. We need to embrace what we are not what some want us to be. The rest of the city has been neglected and we need to now find a balance. Its like you are saying move downtown or else you don’t matter and your voice is moot. Instead of saying build inside out I say lets take care of all of OKC instead of a select group downtown.
    First, I think it is important to specify what parts of town you are speaking of and exactly what is it you want to accomplish. If you live on the outer fringes of OKC, chances are your home, your school and your shopping is better, newer and more convenient than in central OKC. Therefore, your part of the city doesn't need as much.

    I will agree that the parts of town built, say from the 50s up to 1980-ish need sprucing up. But exactly what is it you want to do? New sidewalks? OK. Streets? It's already underway. New parks, possibly but it seems there are a lot of them and exactly who is going to use them? Schools? OK. What is it you want to accomplish. Who is it to benefit and how? Personally, as a roughly monthly visitor to town, I would just like to see the city keep the damn streetlights lit. I understand there are problems around. Lyrewood Lane is becoming a dangerous place but is that OKC or Warr Acres? Either way, how can MAPS help?

    Quote Originally Posted by OKC Guy View Post
    After almost 30 years of focusing on downtown we have not only caught up we have surpassed other same sized cities imo. The park and convention and OMNI will add even more value once opened. But then we need to pause on bundles and figure out what projects we need and put less of them to individual votes. And start spending on core items and services. Plus figuring out how to pay for upkeep and upgrades to what we do have downtown.

    To be honest there is more population and business growth away from downtown too and those folks are gonna want to live close enough to their work. An example is Paycom in far NE OKC. Its creating mega growth in housing and shopping and other things. Yet the roads near by have not been touched to speak of and it needs to be addressed. But since all the extra monies are drained for MAPS type projects none is left. At some point us not spending to take care of these other areas will stagnate travel and growth ability and the 80% of non downtowners standard of living. They matter too. Unless we build another massive Devin downtown most of the growth downtown is tourists.
    Yes, growth is happening outside of downtown, I think we have established that. My point is, by improving roads at a whim on the outer fringe, you are encouraging growth further and further out. OKC now extends far beyond the Kilpatrick to the north. OKC needs to be encouraged to look inward for rebuilds, renovations and infill. Look at the city from an aerial photo and you will see all sorts of unused, vacant or underused land. Again, there was a bond issue for nearly half a billion dollars approved so that issue shouldn't be a problem. Taking care of maintenance is the main problem I see and that is the city manager's job. If he/she can't handle it, OKC needs to find a new one who can.

  17. #17

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    It does not belong in the politics section at all, so let's move on from that discussion.
    Pete, this is a question that is not intended to be snarky in the slightest - but Mr. Shadid's post reads like a newspaper editorial - will we be seeing a version of this post in the Gazette at some point in the near future? Not making any judgments at all if so - just curious.

  18. #18

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    ^

    That is not the plan. I had nothing to do with this post other than helping upload the images.

    But I will say, I believe I was the first to raise issues about how OKC clearly keeps our sales tax artificially low to accommodate MAPS and pointed out that even with MAPS our sales tax is lower than most municipalities in Oklahoman.

    I brought this up years ago and it's an important point, especially given the unique way cities and towns in Oklahoma fund themselves.

  19. #19

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    ^

    That is not the plan. I had nothing to do with this post other than helping upload the images.

    But I will say, I believe I was the first to raise issues about how OKC clearly keeps our sales tax artificially low to accommodate MAPS and pointed out that even with MAPS our sales tax is lower than most municipalities in Oklahoman.

    I brought this up years ago and it's an important point, especially given the unique way cities and towns in Oklahoma fund themselves.
    this assumes that the okc citizens would vote for a general sales tax increase ... which i think is very much in doubt people have voted for the maps tax because citizens believe that it has helped our city and the council has delivered on what they have promised ..


    we have Ed saying maps has hurt the okc quality of life and at the same time he tried to destroy the citizens trust in Maps by not delivering the projects the council had promised ....


    also of note that OKC has improved over other cities in the area because of the non partiisan nature of the city council ... and Ed on his way out made the last elections very partisian

  20. #20

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post

    But I will say, I believe I was the first to raise issues about how OKC clearly keeps our sales tax artificially low to accommodate MAPS and pointed out that even with MAPS our sales tax is lower than most municipalities in Oklahoman.
    You and Ed have most definitely spent more time researching this issue than I, so I ask this question with total respect of that fact, but what evidence is there that MAPS is the reason OKC keeps our sales tax is so low? To me, the fact that our sales tax is so low including MAPS suggests to me at least that there are other forces at play both in OKC and these other cities. With MAPS included, our sales tax is 60% to ~75% of the sales tax in these other cities. If the differences were closer I could probably buy your and Ed's argument without seeing much additional evidence. And while I believe it most definitely is a consideration, this spread is so large that I can't quite make the leap that the only reason the city keeps our "base" sales tax artificially low compared to other cities is to accommodate MAPS.

  21. #21

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Timshel View Post
    You and Ed have most definitely spent more time researching this issue than I, so I ask this question with total respect of that fact, but what evidence is there that MAPS is the reason OKC keeps our sales tax is so low?
    Because every other municipality has continually increased their sales tax and where OKC was once average, since the first MAPS we have fallen further and further behind.

  22. #22

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Because every other municipality has continually increased their sales tax and where OKC was once average, since the first MAPS we have fallen further and further behind.
    But how is this the fault of MAPS? If this were the case I would think, at least at the city council level (though maybe not at the voter level) it should be an easy sell to say: "Hey - let's make sure we continue to keep in line with the average after taking MAPS into account."

    It seems to me that MAPS is being scapegoated for other issues, most likely in my mind being a reluctance to believe voters would approve a general sales tax increase (and to be fair this reluctance is probably well-founded). We could have a material general sales tax increase, keep MAPS, and still remain at or below average compared to other Oklahoma cities.

  23. #23

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete View Post
    Because every other municipality has continually increased their sales tax and where OKC was once average, since the first MAPS we have fallen further and further behind.
    Further and further behind what? I didn't know it was a contest. MAPS has provided OKC with an incredible quantity of facilities and attractions that have NO DEBT. They are fully paid for. What other city can boast this? My God, it's an amazing thing to have accomplished and if room in the sales tax level needs to be reserved, then reserve it! If more revenue is needed then do something about the property tax limitations.

  24. #24

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by Timshel View Post
    But how is this the fault of MAPS? If this were the case I would think, at least at the city council level (though maybe not at the voter level) it should be an easy sell to say: "Hey - let's make sure we continue to keep in line with the average after taking MAPS into account."
    It's the only thing that has changed during this time.

    Remember that the Chamber is the one that pays for MAPS campaigns and to get a measure passed in this town, you need their backing. They want MAPS (have very much to say about what actually goes on the ballot) and know that it would be far less likely to be approved if that extra taxation caused OKC's sales tax to be well over the average.

  25. #25

    Default Re: MAPS is Decreasing Our Quality of Life

    Quote Originally Posted by mugofbeer View Post
    Further and further behind what?
    What sales tax pays for: public safety, parks, and other public services.

    Other Oklahoma towns have raised their sales tax because it is needed in those areas.

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