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Oklahoma City's pledge to help Indian Museum may be on hold

BY MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: May 25, 2012

Oklahoma City is off the hook, at least for now, for its pledge of $9 million to complete construction of the half-finished American Indian Cultural Center and Museum near Interstates 40 and 35 downtown.

The state Senate narrowly defeated a $40 million bond measure Wednesday that was projected to be the final piece of necessary funding to complete the long-delayed $170 million museum.

The city council voted in March to pledge $9 million of the estimated $80 million needed to finish the museum, but the city's pledge was contingent upon the state contributing $40 million.

Private donors and tribes had agreed to furnish the remaining $31 million, J. Blake Wade, CEO of the state agency in charge of the museum, told the council.

The pledge, in effect, still stands, but no money will move unless and until the state comes up with the $40 million, city Finance Director Craig Freeman said. If the Legislature changes course in the final day of the legislative session Friday or in the future, the city is likely to stick with its pledge so the museum can be finished.

“It's clear the council supported the project,” Freeman said.

The city council would still have to decide how to pay for the $9 million because it is not included in any current or proposed city budget.

A 2009 study by consultancy Applied Economics said the museum would generate an additional $6.5 million annually in tax revenue for the city, much of it from out-of-town visitors.