- Associated Press - Sunday, January 4, 2015

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Voters in Tulsa may get to decide two major funding packages in 2015.

The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force is expected to recommend a funding package for low-water dams and dam rehabilitation. Taxpayers would be asked for hundreds of millions of dollars to keep water in the river.

“When we started in December of 2013, I remember thinking that maybe we were starting too early,” Councilor G.T. Bynum said about the task force. “That’s ended up being a much longer process than I think any of us expected.”

The other funding package is a dedicated public safety tax proposed by Mayor Dewey Bartlett, The Tulsa World reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1xu4v7y ). Jarred Brejcha, Bartlett’s chief of staff, is helping develop the proposal, which envisions asking voters for a 0.2 percent sales tax that would be directed toward police, fire and streets.

The tax would begin as Vision 2025’s 0.6 percent sales tax ends in 2016 and would generate about $15 million per year.

City officials are pushing both proposals toward November votes. Bynum, who has led the river task force, has called the project to rehabilitate the river his top goal.

The next major date for the task force will come in April, when an engineering committee plans to present exact cost estimates for low-water dams in Sand Springs, south Tulsa-Jenks and Bixby and the refurbishment of Zink Dam in Tulsa. Estimates will also come for stormwater upgrades and other issues related to river infrastructure.

The low-water dams alone were estimated in October to cost about $266 million.

Bartlett’s public safety tax will go through much the same process as the river infrastructure tax.

Later this month, Bartlett is scheduled to present the last third of his proposal to the council - funding for the Tulsa Fire Department. Bartlett has already made proposals on two other portions of his tax package - police and street maintenance.

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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