Oklahoma City, OK – MAPs4, described by city leaders as an “ambitious and unique” package of tax-financed community improvements will be on a special election ballot December 10. The package was sent to voters after a summer of discussion and special meetings, and after surviving a legal challenge from a former member of the city council.
Commenting on the package after the Council approved it in late August, Mayor David Holt said the set proposal “is a broad package that meets many needs in our city -– most notably in our neighborhoods and in our daily lives. It also enhances our quality of life and promises to diversify our economy. I thank the people of Oklahoma City for their unique role in this process. This is really the MAPS that the people made. And I want to thank the Council for their hard work developing this vision for our future. I now look forward to the conversation with the people of Oklahoma City in the months ahead as we approach the December vote.”
The program slated for voter consideration includes all of the 16 projects unveiled at last summer’s community meetings. “It would raise a projected $978 million over eight years, debt-free, funded by a temporary penny sales tax,” a release from the city’s communications staff said. The 1-cent sales tax would, if approved, keep the current rate unchanged, because the program would replace the “Better Streets, Safer City” sales tax.
City staff has stressed in releases to news organizations, “The proposed MAPS 4 package is focused on neighborhood and human needs, as well as quality of life and job-creating initiatives. More than 70 percent of the funding is dedicated to neighborhood and human needs.”
The program’s 16 projects include parks ($140 million), youth centers ($110 million), senior wellness centers ($30 million), mental health and addition ($40 million), family justice center operated by Palomar ($38 million), transit ($87 million), sidewalks, bike lanes, trails and streetlights ($87 million), homelessness ($50 million), Chesapeake Energy Arena and related facilities ($115 million), animal shelter ($38 million), Fairgrouns Coliseum ($63 million), Diversion Hub ($17 million), Freedom Center and Clara Luper Civil Rights Center ($25 million), beautification ($30 million), and multipurpose stadium ($37 million).
The package will appear on the ballot as a single question. Registered voters may vote on the measure. New registrations or address updates to registration have a November 15 deadline. Voter identification is required in Oklahoma. The city government press release explained, “Acceptable forms of ID are a voter ID card, driver’s license or another form of ID issued by the federal government, state government or federally recognized tribal government. Voters may also cast a provisional ballot by proving their identity with a signed, sworn affidavit, which is available at the polling station.”
Absentee ballots must be requested by December 4 at 5 p.m. Early voting is limited to Friday, December 6 at local county election boards (Oklahoma, Cleveland, Canadian and Pottawatomie Counties).
Ed Shadid, former Oklahoma City council member for Ward 2, argued against the package during his time on the council, and in a lawsuit filed earlier this year. He contended the 16 projects, considered as one proposition, violated Oklahoma’s “single-subject rule” for ballot questions.
On October 14, the state Supreme Court ruled the December 10 vote will be on a general sales tax (a single question) and not on 16 separate questions. Attorney Jay Barnett, serving as Shadid’s counsel for the litigation, on October 18 petitioned the state High Court to reconsider its ruling.
In late October, the High Court rebuffed the Shadid appeal, and the election is set for December 10.