There is never a lack of news in Oklahoma City. That is certainly the case in fall 2017, as the weather turns cool. An always edifying event is on tap from a local ecumenical group, local tax collections are positive, city operations are moving a new site, Mayor Mick is raising money hoping to become chief executive of the state, and the local U.S. congressional race seems destined to heat up.
The Oklahoma Conference of Churches has scheduled its annual dinner for Thursday, November 9. Several distinguished award recipients will be honored.
The Floyd M. Schoenhals Distingished Ecumenist Award will go to Rev. Dr. Robert “Bob” Long, from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church.
The OCC Community Service Award will be presented to Dr. Robert Henry, president of Oklahoma City University, the Rev. Dr. Major Jemison of St. John Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Lou C. Kerr of the Kerr Foundation and Gene Rainbolt of BancFirst.
This year’s Interfaith Award honoree is Rabbi Vered Harris of Temple B’nai Israel.
The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m., and the venue is the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Registration is available online.
More information is available from the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, 301 NW 36 Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73118, telephone , or email [email protected].
In government news, the October sales tax report for Oklahoma City showed General Fund collections were up 4.5 percent compared to the same month last year, above the monthly projection by 2.4 percent.
The October report includes collections for the last half of August and estimated collections in the first half of September, which total about $18.5 million for the General Fund. That’s around $438,000 above the projection.
October is the fourth month of fiscal year 2018. General Fund sales tax revenue is 1.8 percent (about $1.3 million) above the year-to-date projection.
The October report is the sixth straight month of increased sales tax revenue compared to the same month the previous year, which follows a year-long streak of declines. Despite the recent gains, revenue this past month was slightly less than same month in 2014.
A ¼ cent General Fund sales tax increase approved Sept. 12 by voters will take effect Jan. 1.
The General Fund pays for the City’s day-to-day operations. Sales tax is the City’s largest single source of revenue.
The City collected around $35 million in total sales tax revenue during the September reporting period, including collections for the General Fund, MAPS 3, Police, Fire and the Zoo.
About the local sales tax: The sales tax rate in Oklahoma City is 8.375 percent, and 3.875 cents of each dollar in taxable sales goes to the City. Of that, two cents is allocated to the City’s General Fund, one cent goes to MAPS 3, three-fourths of a cent is dedicated to Police and Fire, and one-eighth of a cent goes to the Zoo. The rest of the sales tax belongs to the state.
Note: Oklahoma City businesses located in Cleveland and Canadian Counties collect a slightly higher sales tax rate due to County sales tax.
Also in city government news, official business at Oklahoma City Municipal Court moves from the old building to the recently completed new building across the street on Oct. 31.
People with business to conduct at the Court were using the old building, 700 Couch Drive, through Monday, Oct. 30. But beginning Tuesday, Oct. 31, the new building opened across the street at 701 Couch Drive.
City leaders cut the ribbon on the new building in September, and Court staff have been preparing for the move to the new building ever since. Business operations at the Court have been unaffected and will continue as normal through the move.
The Municipal Court staff thanks residents in advance for their patience and understanding while the move is under way.
And, in political news, Oklahomans for Mick Cornett 2018 announced last week it has surpassed $900,000 in total amount raised, from more than 900 contributors, while pulling in $620,000 in the third quarter.
“Everywhere we go on this campaign, I am met by people who are supportive in so many ways,” Oklahoma City Mayor and Republican candidate for Governor Mick Cornett said. “I am humbled by the incredible amount of support I’ve received throughout Oklahoma. Our fundraising quarter ensures we are highly competitive in driving our positive message about Oklahoma’s future. Our support grows every day and we are in a strong position to win.”
“Our greatest advantage is Mick’s record of accomplishment as a leader in Oklahoma City,” said Renzi Stone, campaign chairman. “All across the state, voters are showing us Mick is the leader they want to fix the mess state government has created and is still creating. With more than $900,000 raised to-date, and an ever-growing fundraising base, our campaign is in a strong position to share Mick’s vision across the state.”
The plot of the story surrounding the Fifth District Congressional race in the Oklahoma City area continues to thicken. Incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, a Republican, seems likely to face a determined challenge for reelection. Past Democratic party hopeful Tom Guild is in the race, and will likely knock on thousands of doors between now and next year’s Democratic primary.
But Kendra Horn, an experienced left-of-center organizer in the state and region, is also seeking the Democratic nod – and from July to September she raised slightly more money ($91,140) than the GOP incumbent ($90,938; leaving him with a total of $155,133 cash-on-hand.
Horn’s July 13 campaign launch, as reported in The City Sentinel and elsewhere, was a jam-packed event on historic Film Row in downtown Oklahoma City. Russell’s cash flow is positive, in contrast to the past.
The stage may set for the most competitive local congressional race in many years.
NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this story.