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Parks Sales Tax Initiative FAQs

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What was the proposed parks sales tax?

It was a proposed permanent 1/8-cent sales tax dedicated to Oklahoma City parks operations, improvements, maintenance and programming. 

Who or what proposed the parks sales tax?

A resident's initiative petition: Initiative Petition 42.

How did this get on a citywide election ballot?

In Oklahoma City, residents can file official initiative petitions with the City Clerk to propose changes to City ordinances (including sales tax). Residents then have 90 days to gather the required number of legally sufficient signatures from qualified Oklahoma City voters and turn them in. The required number of signatures depends on the number of votes in the most recent Mayoral election. If the petitioner turns in enough signatures, the City Council must call a citywide election for voters to decide on adopting the proposed ordinance change.

A resident filed Initiative Petition No. 42 with the Clerk on Sept. 6, 2019, proposing a limited-purpose 1/8-cent sales tax for Oklahoma City parks. The resident filed 7,977 signatures in support of the petition on Dec. 2, 2019.

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 City published a public notice in The Journal Record on Dec. 4, 2019, and the deadline to challenge the petition was Dec. 16, 2019.

The City Council called the election Dec. 17, 2019, for March 3, 2020, the next available election date on the State of Oklahoma’s 2020 election calendar.

Had there ever been an initiative petition like this before in Oklahoma City?

Yes. In 1989, there were successful initiative petitions for a permanent 3/4-cent sales tax for public safety services (primarily the Police and Fire departments) and a permanent 1/8-cent sales tax for the Oklahoma City Zoo. Voters approved the public safety initiative in 1989, and the Zoo initiative in 1990. Both are still in place. Both taxes also work in much the same way as this one. The City Council has ultimate authority to decide how to spend the money within the limited range of purposes defined in the ordinance.

Does this have anything to do with MAPS 4?

No.

How much money would the parks sales tax have raised?

The Finance Department estimates the proposed parks sales tax would have raised about $15 million annually.

Where would the money have gone? 

The City Council would have overseen spending of revenue. 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 maintenance, improvements, programming and other parks operations expenses.

How are Oklahoma City parks funded?

The City of Oklahoma City's General Fund budget includes OKC Parks operations.  Sales tax is the General Fund's primary revenue source. Most of the General Fund goes to public safety services, with parks and other public services making up the rest. The OKC Parks budget would have included dedicated funding from the proposed parks sales tax. Capital improvement projects for OKC Parks are largely funded by bond funds in the Better Streets, Safer City program, and upcoming MAPS 4 investments.

Would this have changed the sales tax rate? 

Yes. It would have been an increase of 12.5 cents in sales tax on a $100 purchase. The sales tax rate in most of Oklahoma City would have risen from 8.625% to 8.75% on July 1. (The overall tax rate in the parts of Oklahoma City in Canadian, Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties is slightly higher than in Oklahoma County because of county sales taxes.)

How does OKC's sales tax rate compare to other cities?

The overall sales tax rate in most of Oklahoma City is be 8.625%, with slightly higher rates in Canadian, Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties because of county sales taxes. Of that, 4.125% is City sales tax. The rest is state or county sales tax.

Overall sales tax rates as of April 1, 2020:

  • 10.75% in Piedmont (Kingfisher County) 
  • 9.85% in Piedmont (Canadian County)
  • 9.1% in Midwest City
  • 8.85% in Mustang
  • 8.85% in Yukon
  • 8.72% statewide average
  • 8.625% in Norman
  • 8.5% in Bethany
  • 8.375% in Moore
  • 8.25% in Edmond

When would the parks sales tax have taken effect?

July 1.

When was the election?

The election was March 3, 2020. Voters said no to the proposal.

More questions?

Contact the City of Oklahoma City’s Public Information and Marketing Office:

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