Oklahoma City council allocates money for overtime pay for police officers in tax proposal
OKLAHOMA CITY — Voters will go to the polls in September, deciding whether to raise their own taxes to improve streets and public safety.
In separate votes, citizens will decide whether to extend a temporary, one-cent MAPS tax and dedicate it to infrastructure over the next two years. The tax extension would generate $240 million over 27 months.
On the same ballot, voters will also decide whether to implement a permanent quarter-cent tax, to be dedicated to public safety. That measure would raise $26 million each fiscal year, enough to unfreeze police and fire positions and restart rigs that have been shut down.
“If you want your streets fixed, if you want more police officers and you want more firefighters, this is the ballot you’ve been waiting for,” said Mayor Mick Cornett. “We’re addressing public safety, we’re addressing streets like no city ever has before.”
Streets and public safety are the two areas people most frequently cite as needing improvement, Cornett said.
On Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council amended the Public Safety and Operations Support Program and added a provision that allocates $1 million each year for police overtime to target high-crime areas. It also sets aside up to $200,000 to address unplanned staffing shortages.
“With Oklahoma’s City growth over the past 20 years, additional resources are needed to protect our community. We applaud the City Council for recognizing the necessity of an overtime program and working to identify long-term solutions for more officers. The quarter-cent sales tax can help in both areas. Together, city leaders and police officers can protect and sustain the continued growth of our city,” said Mark Nelson, vice president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police.
Oklahoma currently has the 29th-highest municipal sales tax rate, according to the Tax Foundation. Increasing taxes would move Oklahoma City up to the 24th-highest rate.
The special election is scheduled for Sept. 12. It will also feature questions about the city’s general obligation bond proposal.