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Local & Regional

Tulsa Route 66 Commission Pinning Down Its First Budget

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With its first of 15 annual funding allocations coming July 1, the Tulsa Route 66 Commission is finalizing its budget.

While the commission has been meeting since August 2016, its $262,500 in annual Vision sales tax funding doesn't start until fiscal year 2019.

"There are opportunities for marketing in various forms, beautification, actually marking the route, building improvements. I think that we’re doing a good job of being public stewards of these dollars and really crafting a plan that I think will be effective," said Tulsa Route 66 Commission Chairman Ed Sharrer.

Initial plans call for $140,000, or 53 percent of the funding, to go toward marketing efforts, including travel to conferences. Commission Vice-Chair Rhys Martin said with growing interest in historic preservation, some conferences offer more than a chance at drawing tourists.

"When I talk about Route 66 to folks that aren’t in the know, they think it’s gone and it doesn’t exist anymore," Martin said. "And so, when people realize that, you know, over 80 percent of the road is still there and there’s a lot of things to see, you know, the next step is, ‘OK. So, what do we have that needs to be saved?’ And that’s when they get involved."

The commission's draft budget includes $30,000 for the placement of 20 large decals, $25,000 for neon sign grants, $20,000 for building facade improvement grants, $13,500 for Route 66 planters and their upkeep, and $4,000 for a strategic reserve.

Finance Chair Ken Bubsy said an important piece of the budget is putting $30,000 a year into a maintenance reserve.

"Right now, so many of our assets, from routine maintenance to whatever, are just neglected. A light goes out, and you wait until three go out and then finally, 'OK, I guess we better do something,'" Busby said.

That money can roll over from year to year, letting the commission build the maintenance reserve over time.

The Tulsa Route 66 Commission expects to finalize the budget next month. The commission is responsible for fostering business and tourism along Tulsa's 24-mile stretch of Route 66.