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"Fourth Penny" Sales Tax for Tulsa?

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Support for a “fourth penny” sales tax grows — slightly — among Tulsa city councilors.

Jack Henderson is usually the city councilor pushing for a tax increase, often using the catchphrase, “Give me a penny and I’ll do plenty.” Thursday, discussion on Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s public safety funding proposal turned to sales taxes, and it turns out another councilor is seeing things Henderson’s way.

"I personally support an operations budget increase," said Councilor Blake Ewing. "I support a tax increase for operations funding."

Ewing pointed out the mayor’s proposal, a capital package and river projects will all be fighting for sales tax revenue, and said somehow Tulsans have come to see anything that comes with a tax increase as a bad idea.

Henderson said Bartlett’s proposal reflects the need for a sales tax increase.

"I do appreciate you coming forward with this, because it still makes us see that, that fourth penny is where we need to be," Henderson said.

Henderson said Tulsa's future looks bleak otherwise.

"We're talking about people moving to other cities. They're not moving because we're raising taxes. They're moving because we're not supplying them with what they think a city this size should be giving them," he said. "So they go into these bedroom communities, and they raise taxes in the bedroom communities.

"They're not worried about it, because they want to grow."

Sales tax within city limits is currently just over 8.5 percent. Of that, 4.5 percent goes to the state, 3.1 to the city and the rest to Tulsa County.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.