What is Initiative Petition #42?
Initiative Petition #42 places for a March 3rdvote of the people the question of whether a 1/8-cent (0.125%) sales tax should be created in order to provide a dedicated funding source for the operations, programming and maintenance of OKC’s 165 Municipal Parks.
What is the legal description of how the funds could be utilized by the Parks Department if passed by the voters on March 3rd?
The 1/8-cent sales tax shall be expended only for the funding of OKC Parks, including any or all the following:
- Funding for the replacement and addition of trees and plant materials but excluding funds for mowing grass in the parks;
- Funding necessary to initiate and carry out park programs including, but not limited to, athletic leagues, exercise classes, training and exercise areas for pets, and similar other outdoor activities;
- Capital improvements, but only for the following types of improvements: a) new restroom facilities; b) things necessary to conduct athletic activities such as soccer goals and baseball backstops; and c) bleachers for public seating; and
- Funding of other operational expenses for OKC parks, including expenses normally associated with a major metropolitan park system.
- Provided, the additional excise tax levied hereby shall not be expended to operate, maintain, improve, or otherwise benefit directly or indirectly any OKC park operated in whole or part by any private, non-governmental foundation or other similar private entity.
Why do OKC Parks need a dedicated funding source for operations, programming and maintenance?
The funds potentially provided with a Yes vote for initiative petition #42 on March 3rdare for operations and maintenance as opposed to capital expenditures (building things) which is what was addressed by the MAPS and GO Bond programs. What brings people into parks is programming (activities such as dog training, city-wide athletic leagues like we used to have but can no longer afford etc…) and that is exactly what this petition provides. During a recession the Parks Department is one of the first departments forced to cut their budget and next year, even without a recession in place, the OKC Budget Office is proposing another 2.5% cut in the Parks budget.
Didn’t we just vote on a parks package as part of the MAPS 4 vote? How is this different?
Again, both the MAPS and GO Bond (which also had a parks package) programs are almost exclusively capital expenditure funds in which the monies are used to build things. In addition, the monies from the MAPS and GO Bond programs can only be utilized for the parks built by those programs. There are over 100 neighborhood parks that do not have access to those funds for operations and maintenance.
When would the funds be available if initiative petition #42 passes a vote of the people on March 3rd?
The funds would be available for the budget of the next fiscal year, which runs from July 2020 through June 2021.
How much would the parks funding authorized by initiative petition #42 provide?
Currently, a 1/8 cent fund for operations and maintenance of parks would generate roughly $14-15 million/year.