Oklahoma Supreme Court hears arguments on Tulsa project

The dispute centers on whether a proposed $25 million state bond issue to make improvements to develop a Tulsa park is constitutional.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: November 8, 2012 at 10:10 pm •  Published: November 9, 2012
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Chief Justice Steven Taylor asked questions indicating he had a difficult time agreeing that the Tulsa project has a state function similar to housing state agencies.

Kinney said the project addresses safety and tourism issues as well as sparking economic development in the area.

Taylor said he also is concerned that the purpose for the bond issue has changed.

“It is not the same project,” he said.

If the bond issue is approved, the agency formerly known as the Central Services Department would oversee the work, Kinney said. Lawmakers would appropriate the money to the agency, which would make the bond debt service payments.

Project's limitations

Justice Noma Gurich asked questions on how the agency, which has been absorbed by another agency and no longer exists, could receive the money and make the payments.

Justice Yvonne Kauger said she is concerned the project is limited to benefit Tulsa.

Gary Bush, an attorney representing the Tulsa River Parks Authority, said the cost of the total park project is about $160 million. Tulsa doesn't have all the money yet to pay for it, he said.

Anderson said the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight, which approved the original bond issue, asked this year that the Legislature again consider the proposal before bonds are sold because of changes made to the project. He said the council eventually reversed itself and recommended approval.

The Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority, which handles bond issues for the state, asked the Supreme Court earlier this year to review the plan before seeking to sell bonds.



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