Oklahoma City voters will decide today whether to continue a 1-cent sales tax to pay for $121 million in improvements to the Ford Center and a new NBA practice facility. The vote is described by city leaders as a referendum on whether the city wants an NBA team. The NBA's Seattle SuperSonics have applied to relocate to Oklahoma City, and NBA owners are scheduled to vote on the request next month. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has said the fate of that relocation request depends on the outcome of today's vote by city residents.
If the proposal is approved:•The 1-cent sales tax currently paying for MAPS for Kids, which is set to expire at midnight Dec. 31, would continue for 15 more months, raising about $100 million to renovate the Ford Center and $20 million for a new NBA practice facility. •Improvements at the Ford Center would include decorative floors and walls, new concession areas, renovated rest rooms, new suites, NBA locker rooms, office space, a family fun zone and other improvements. •City officials said the improvements will also make it easier for the Ford Center to compete with other venues in the region for events like the Big 12 basketball tournaments, NCAA basketball regionals and concerts. •If the proposal is approved but the NBA decides not to locate a team here by June of 2009, the practice facility would not be built and the tax would last 12 months instead of 15.
If voters reject the proposal:•Cornett and others have said there is no plan B for funding the improvements, and that Oklahoma City will not get an NBA team. •The MAPS for Kids sales tax will expire at midnight Dec. 31. Unless voters pass another sales tax initiative before then, the tax rate will go down 1 cent beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
Other metro-area elections include:•Canadian County: Yukon school bond issue. •Cleveland County: Norman City Council races; Moore mayor's race, Moore school bond issue. •Grady County: Minco City Council race; Rush Springs school bond issue. •Lincoln County: Davenport school bond issue. •Logan County: Coyle school bond issue. •Oklahoma County: Warr Acres City Council races; Bethany school bond issue. •Pottawatomie County: Bethel school bond issue.
Other state votes•In Tulsa, primary elections will be held for three city council seats. District 4 will have Democratic and Republican primaries, while Districts 1 and 9 will have Democratic primaries. Tulsa's general election is April 1. •Enid voters will consider two bond proposals — $39 million for streets, and $7 million for bridges in the city, and will also decide on extending an existing 1-cent sales tax until 2042. •In Latimer County, voters will consider extending a half-cent sales tax for five years, a three-fourths-cent sales tax for Latimer County Hospital for five years, and a three-fourths-cent sales tax to maintain and operate a solid waste system for five years. •Voters in Kay and Beaver counties will fill the unexpired District 2 county commissioner seats.