Oklahoma City voters approved a 1% sales tax measure by 71.7% to 28.3 percent in a special election Tuesday. The tax revenue was earmarked to fund the city’s Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) 4 program of proposed city infrastructure and facility projects.
The MAPS 4 tax will expire in eight years and is expected to raise an estimated $978 million over that time. The three largest recipients of the tax proceeds will be city parks ($140 million), youth centers ($110 million), and the Chesapeake Energy Arena and related facilities ($115 million).
The tax will go into effect in April 2020, when the current 1% transportation sales tax expires. The city’s overall sales tax rate will remain unchanged at 8.625%. The state sales tax rate in Oklahoma is 4.5%. The total Oklahoma City sales tax rate is 4.125%. There are no county-wide or other local sales taxes in Oklahoma City. If voters had not approved the measure, Oklahoma City’s overall sales tax would have decreased to 7.625%.
The average total sales tax rate (state and local) in Oklahoma is 8.77%. State law allows additional local sales taxes of up to 6.5%, making the maximum total sales tax rate in the state 11%.
The first version of the city’s MAPS program—which was also funded by a 1% sales tax—was approved by voters on December 14, 1993, with the tax expiring on July 1, 1999, after generating about $309 million in revenue. MAPS 2 and MAPS 3 followed. The MAPS 3 tax expired in December 2017 and final projects are planned for completion in 2022.
The city council voted Sept. 24 to put the measure on the ballot. The council will have final authority over the administration of the program. A volunteer advisory board will have detailed oversight. Oklahoma City’s next regular municipal election—when four of the council’s eight seats are up for election—is in 2021.
Next year, voters could decide on another 0.125% sales tax measure to fund city park maintenance and operations. Former City Council Member Ed Shadid filed petitions for a citizen initiative proposing the measure on Dec. 2. If city officials verify the petitions have the 6,499 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, voters could decide the initiative during the state’s presidential primary on March 3 or state legislative primaries June 30. The tax is expected to generate about $15 million per year.
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