Good news in City Tax Report; special election set on charter amendment, and on franchise agreement
Published: April 25th, 2019
OKLAHOMA City – Sales Tax collections in Oklahoma City continue to grow, reflecting a strong local economy, and an important July 9 special election has been set to consider an important charter amendment and changes to the Oklahoma Natural Gas franchise agreement.
The April sales tax report shows General Fund collections in Oklahoma City were up 4 percent compared to the same month last year, above the monthly projection by 2.7 percent. The April report includes collections for the last half of February and estimated collections in the first half of March, which total about $20.2 million for the General Fund. That’s around $537,000 above the projection.
Sales Tax Report reflects economic strength
April is the tenth month of fiscal year 2019. General Fund sales tax revenue is 0.2 percent (about $358,000) above the year-to-date projection. The April report is the 23rd time in the last 24 months that Oklahoma City recorded year-over-year sales tax revenue growth. A slight decline in March snapped a streak of 22 straight months of growth.
The General Fund pays for the City’s day-to-day operations. Sales tax is the City’s largest single source of revenue.
The City collected around $37 million in total sales tax revenue during the April reporting period, including collections for the General Fund, Police, Fire, the Zoo and Better Streets, Safer City.
Charter Amendment, Franchise Accord set for July 9 verdict from voters
The Oklahoma City Council called a special election on July 9 for a proposed City Charter Amendment that would allow more state and federal government employees to serve on the City Council. The other ballot proposal would change the Oklahoma Natural Gas franchise agreement.
The proposed changes were introduced March 12 (http://city-sentinel.com/2019/03/oklahoma-city-council-considers-july-9-election-for-charter-amendments-ong-franchise/ ). The Council voted on April 23 to call the election.
Oklahoma City voters will consider the changes July 9 as separate ballot questions. Each requires a simple majority to pass.
The governor of the state must also review and sign the voter-approved Charter amendment for it to formally become law.
Employment restrictions: The proposed Charter Amendment would keep restrictions for elected officials and government officers like state legislators and school superintendents, who can’t serve on the Council.
However, if voters approve, the new charter provision would allow other state and federal government employees, like teachers and engineers, to be Council members.
Under current law, new Ward 2 Council Member James Cooper (sworn in April 9) resigned from his full-time job as a public schoolteacher in order to serve on the Council. If the proposed amendment were already in place, he could hold both positions at once (http://city-sentinel.com/2019/04/freedom-oklahoma-to-hold-monday-april-8-march-to-celebrate-oklahomas-first-openly-gay-oklahoma-city-council-member/).
All Oklahoma City voters registered by June 14 are eligible to cast a ballot on July 9.
ONG franchise agreement: According to a press release from city communications staff, the proposed change to the franchise agreement “clarifies the definition of gross cash receipts, which determine the franchise fees ONG pays to the City. After negotiations, the City and ONG agreed the definition should include certain receipts the City had contended should already be included.”
If the change is approved, ONG’s residential and commercial natural gas customers in Oklahoma City could see an increase in their gas bill of about 0.1 percent. ONG would pay the City about $225,000 in additional annual franchise fees, an increase of about 4 percent. Franchise fees go into the City’s General Fund, which pays for day-to-day operations like police officer and firefighter salaries.
NOTE: Editor Pat McGuigan contributed to this report.