Oklahoma City voters said no to a permanent 1/8-cent sales tax for parks in a citywide initiative petition election March 3. The election was triggered by a resident's validated initiative petition filed at City Hall, which required the Oklahoma City Council to call the election for voters to consider the issue.
The resident filed 7,977 signatures in support of the petition on Dec. 2. The City Clerk and Municipal Counselor verified the number of legally sufficient signatures from Oklahoma City voters surpassed the 6,499 needed to trigger an election.
The 1/8-cent parks sales tax would have been similar to the ¾-cent sales tax dedicated to public safety (primarily the Police and Fire departments), and the 1/8-cent sales tax dedicated to the Oklahoma City Zoo. Voters approved those permanent taxes in 1989 and 1990 after initiative petitions in 1989.
The City Council would have overseen spending of revenue from the parks sales tax. Funds would have been spent only on parks operated by OKC Parks, not City-owned parks operated by non-governmental foundations like Scissortail Park or Myriad Botanical Gardens. The funds would have supported parks operations, improvements, maintenance and programming.
The Finance Department estimated the tax would have raised about $15 million annually. It would have taken effect July 1.
Including state sales tax, the new overall sales tax rate in most of Oklahoma City would have been 8.75%, an increase of 12.5 cents in sales tax on a $100 purchase.
The rest of the permanent Oklahoma City sales tax goes to the General Fund for day-to-day operations, which is also mostly public safety services. There’s also a temporary penny sales tax that will fund Better Streets, Safer City projects until March 31, and then MAPS 4 for eight years starting April 1.
Learn more about sales tax in Oklahoma City at okc.gov/tax.