by E.B. Thompson and Lottie Wilds, Staff Writers
On Tuesday, January 7, 2020, the first of a series of Town Hall meetings covering the G.O. (General Obligation) Bond Election to be held on Tuesday, January 14, was held at Sapulpa City Hall. The meeting was led by City Attorney David Widdoes and was attended by many other city officials and community members.
Widdoes believes that Sapulpa is at an “important crossroads” in its history; a time when a public commitment to improve our community can help us compete with other local cities and towns by improving infrastructure and safety, and also by attracting and stimulating economic development at prime locations along the Route 66 corridor, in the Downtown area, along Highway 117 going east towards Highway 75, and in other key areas.
The bond total is estimated to be $40.235 million and encompasses six propositions, each of which are intended to improve the community through roads and bridges, downtown enhancements, parks and city facilities upgrades, economic development, public safety, or beautification.
Passage of this bond will ensure that the City can make the needed investments to accomplish these goals.
Proposition 1 focuses on improvements to streets and bridges and a Master Plan to enhance Sapulpa’s historic downtown area. Specifically, it includes widening and adding a signal light to the intersection of Highway 117 and South 49th West Avenue ($2.140 million), adding a light and an extension to State Highway 66 and Highway 117A ($1.290 million), widening and resurfacing East Dewey Avenue (near the Heart of Route 66 Auto Museum) to assist two residential sub-developments currently in construction ($2.060 million) and to create a “Master Plan” of improvement and implementation to Downtown ($5.150 million). This is the most expensive of the six propositions, coming in at a total of $10.640 million. (For a home valued at $100,000.00, this equals an increase in taxes of $1.06 a month.)
Proposition 2 covers important public safety improvements, including police vehicle replacement ($278k), police station HVAC, a gun range, and building upgrades ($280k), police technology and mobile data system upgrades ($590k), the replacement of Fire Station #3 ($2.370 million), a new fire training facility ($1.545 million), and the refurbishment of fire trucks ($722k) for a total of $5.785 million. The improvements in the Fire Department alone would lower Sapulpa’s risk factor (ISO) and, ultimately, lower insurance on homes. (This improvement would raise taxes on a $100,000.00 home by $0.58 a month.)
Proposition 3 regards community park enhancements. It includes upgrading and adding restrooms to McCoy Park ($206k), adding an ADA-inclusive playground to Liberty Park that will rival that of the Tulsa Zoo’s new equipment ($618k), upgrading the Municipal Golf Course’s flood mitigation and irrigation systems ($1.185 million), (which helps control flooding in residential areas downstream) and updating and improving City-owned Park and Recreation Facilities and Lake Properties ($1.081 million), totaling $3.090 million. (This improvement would raise taxes by $0.31.)
Proposition 4 focuses on something new for the City of Sapulpa, which is a piece that is specific to Economic Development. It would give resources to purchase property and to offer incentives to bring new businesses, restaurants, and industries to Sapulpa to “stimulate growth and to enhance our quality of life.” The total cost estimate of this proposition is $4 million, but would not be enacted immediately, but as the newly created Oversight Committee and input from the public would advise.
Proposition 5 is the replacement of the Booker T. Washington Recreation Center, which will cost an estimated $8.5 million and is expected to be a boon to our community’s tourism and enable us to attract many different types of events and tournaments, both sports and non-sports-related. This is also expected to further enhance the improvements to the Route 66 corridor, as it will be visible from that stretch of road and will be easily accessible from it. (It was determined earlier that it is “cost-prohibitive” to renovate BTW, since it could not be made ADA-accessible and was originally designed to be a school.) (This improvement would raise taxes on a $100,000.00 home by $0.85 a month.)
Proposition 6 finishes 2015’s expansion of the Youth Sports Complex southeast of Walmart. In particular, this includes adding a 325+ car parking lot, 6 lighted baseball fields with concessions and restrooms, 2 lighted soccer fields with concessions and restrooms, and better road access to these areas. The total of these improvements are estimated to be $8.220 million. (and would raise the taxes by $0.82.)
As far as the cost of the bond to property owners, Widdoes calls them “modest.” To be exact, if ALL propositions are passed, the owner of a $100k home will see an annual increase of around $48 to their property taxes. Homes with a value of $150k will have an increase of about $75 annually, and $250k homes about $127. To further break this down, that would be a monthly property tax increase of roughly $4.02 for a $100k home or a $10.59 increase for a $250k home.
Widdoes and the City Council believe the eventual economic benefits, however, could be phenomenal. To be able to compete with surrounding communities in Tulsa County who have been able to benefit from the Vision 2025 proposal passed in 2003 could have staggering advantages for Sapulpa.
To ensure that voters’ visions come to fruition, a Bond Oversight Committee will be created to oversee and approve all proposed improvements and costs. This will be a 12-member group comprised of citizens, school board members, local leaders, and community volunteers. It is a 2-year commitment, and members of the public are encouraged to apply. Contact City Hall for more information.
The City of Sapulpa has not had a bond issue since 2015 so Widdoes deems these upgrades and improvements to be especially imperative.
Several solid questions were asked by citizens in attendance, with one further commenting that the passage of this bond is a “no brainer.” City Manager Joan Riley said if it doesn’t pass, “There is no ‘Plan B’” because Sapulpa has limited ways to increase revenue to upgrade the city.
If you have questions about the Bond Propositions, City Attorney David Widdoes encourages you to attend one of the Town Hall meetings. You can check the Bond Election’s website for those dates and times or for more information.
The Road to a Better Sapulpa G.O. Bond Election will take place next Tuesday, January 14. As usual, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you are unsure where your polling place is, please visit the Creek County Election Board website. Early voting begins Thursday, January 9th.