A citizens advisory committee’s proposal for funding a large-scale street improvement plan could be firm next week.
The committee, appointed by Miami Mayor Brent Brassfield and comprised of more than a dozen local business leaders, is set to meet Monday to decide what its formal recommendation to the city council will be with regard to how the city will fund a $20 million start-up plan for street improvement.
The plan, if funded, would address approximately 70 percent of the city’s 112 miles of streets.
The group has spent a month mulling options for funding. Monday will mark its fifth, and possibly final, meeting.
Discussions have included general obligation bonds, paid for through property tax, but the group has turned its focus toward a city sales tax.
The committee is now attempting to narrow options through determining what voters may be willing to support and weighing the cost of an increased sales tax against the potential of new economic development interest.
Members have debated the percentage of taxation up to a full penny and the length of taxation — from as little as 10 years to perpetuity.
In 10 years, a 1-cent increase in the city sales tax would generate about $15 million, according to Rick Smith with Municipal Finance Services in Edmond. A 15-year sales-tax measure, at 1 percent, would generate about $20 million.
The committee is also looking at the how to fund future maintenance and has discussed a potential sales tax that would include a partial sunset clause — meaning that a percentage of the tax would cease after a specified term while the remainder would remain indefinitely for perpetual maintenance.
City manager Huey P. Long told the group to not focus its efforts on setting aside maintenance funds but to get the tax in place, get the work done and allow the city to prove itself — then come back to voters later and seek future maintenance funding after it has gained public trust.
Some committee members disagreed, saying that the public needs more of an “offering” from the city to share the burden, noting that the city should take steps to “tighten its own belt” and increase yearly funding for street maintenance.
Long said the city is scrutinizing its expenses and is currently in the process of evaluating administration and staff.
“We recognize that ‘it starts in our own house,’” Long said.
Three cents of the existing 8.85 percent sales tax is obligated to the city. The last time the city raised its sales tax was 1986.
We want to know
Would you support a 1-percent increase in the city’s sales tax for repair and maintenance of existing city streets?
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