On Tuesday, voters in Oklahoma City passed a new sales tax to fund downtown improvements. It passed by a vote of 54 percent to 46 percent.
The tax will be used to fund improvements such as a 70-acre downtown park ($130 million), a new convention center ($280 million), mass transit initiatives ($130 million), health and wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens ($50 million), and other things.
The tax was promoted as not really a “new” tax, as it is timed to replace an existing tax of the same amount that is expiring.
Wichita’s plans for downtown revitalization will need some sort of funding, and the Oklahoma City tax — its name is MAPS 3 — has been promoted by John Rolfe, President and CEO of Go Wichita Convention & Visitors Bureau, as “interesting.” Other downtown leaders have spoken favorably of a sales tax for funding downtown improvements.
Wichitans can count on a similar sales tax being proposed for whatever projects the year-long downtown planning process calls for. Oklahoma City’s experience will surely be used to promote a similar tax in Wichita.