“It’s a good problem to have,” Oklahoma City reports surplus in MAPS tax collections

OKLAHOMA CITY - City leaders said they have taken in more sales tax money than they expected, resulting in a surplus that could potentially be put toward the MAPS 3 Program.

Initial estimates show Oklahoma City has raised an extra $40-42 million through a one-cent sales tax to put toward public works projects.

It's money the city said it can invest to add on to current MAPS projects.

"Well, it's a good problem to have, to have excess money like this," said MAPS Program Manager David Todd. "And, we're doing our best to make sure it's spent properly."

Sales tax collections in Oklahoma City have dropped consistently over the last year, but Todd said MAPS is still operating above projections, because the city set the bar low when it began collecting in April 2010.

Collections for MAPS 3 Projects end in December 2017, so Todd said the city is not in the clear yet.

Plus, high-profile projects like the new convention center, streetcar and downtown park have not been bid out and could run more expensive than expected.

But, the city still sees itself in a favorable position, meaning the surplus will likely trickle down to the seven "subcommittees" charged with planning and approving MAPS-related construction.

"Every one of them have seen an opportunity to spend a few more bucks, add something here, add something there," said Tom McDaniel, chairman of the MAPS 3 Advisory Board. "Every subcommittee and every project would like to have some more money."

Many of the subcommittees said they have wish lists of things they couldn't afford and had to cut out of their original plans.

Mike Knopp, Executive Director of the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation, said extra money would help the new Riversport Rapids add kid-friendly water features, additional lighting and a pedestrian bridge to improve the facility's accessibility and interconnectivity.

"From my viewpoint, the greatest fear of the MAPS projects is that the money wouldn't come in, and then the decision we would have to make is how do we cut all these projects?" McDaniel said. "So, having to decide what we can add and what we can do better and what we can do differently is a fun opportunity, and I think that everything we choose to spend money on will be additive and will only enhance and help us achieve the goals that we have for MAPS 3."