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MAPS 3 ballot won’t detail individual projects

BY JOHN ESTUS Published: November 8, 2009
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The first MAPS ballot in 1993 listed each of the proposed projects in a single-question, all-or-nothing proposition, but that ballot may have been improper, according to numerous attorneys.

A state law commonly referred to as the single subject rule forbids cities from asking voters to approve one tax for multiple purposes. Voters must vote on tax-funded projects one project at a time.

"Someone probably could have challenged the original MAPS as violating the single subject rule, but no one really did,” said City Attorney Kenny Jordan.

The law is why the MAPS 3 ballot will look dramatically different from its predecessors.

Oklahoma City Council members kept specific projects off the MAPS 3 ballot. They instead opted to describe the projects as general "capital improvements” in a single question, all-or-nothing ballot that asks voters to let the city to enact a tax to pay for those improvements.

The ordinance council members passed in September to set the Dec. 8 vote was bundled with a resolution outlining how to spend the $777 million the sales tax would be expected to generate. Resolutions are nonbinding and can be overturned by a city council vote.

Such an approach to a ballot is unusual in Oklahoma, said Andrew Spiropoulos, a law professor at Oklahoma City University and director of the Center for the Study of State Constitutional Law and Government.

"It’s not the legal structure that’s unusual — it’s the fact that the city is willing to make such a commitment to such a big series of projects,” he said. Ongoing coverage: MAPS 3


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