In his second state of the city address Thursday, Mayor G.T. Bynum said Tulsa is safer, more prosperous and planning for the future, and it’s time to build on that.
Similar to his first state of the city, Bynum recapped accomplishments of the past year then announced several new initiatives. Among them is a renewal of the 2014 Improve Our Tulsa package.
While drafting it will be similar to the Vision Tulsa process, the projects will be more practical than ambitious.
"It will be about fixing streets, taking better care of our physical facilities and making sure that our first responders have operable vehicles so that they can protect the citizens of Tulsa," Bynum said.
Bynum anticipates the Improve Our Tulsa renewal will be a roughly $500 million package if it follows current property and sales tax rates, and the bulk of the projects will be street repairs.
Bynum said in 2019, he wants to bring together educators, elected officials and residents to talk about local options for education funding from pre-K through higher ed.
"I want us not to hope that the state legislature puts something on the ballot, not for me to be having conversations with our superintendents behind closed doors, but for us to have a community-wide discussion about what our options are and put a plan together that the citizens of Tulsa can act on," Bynum said.
The city has asked lawmakers to eliminate a penalty for using local funding in schools. A state question that dealt with that failed.
Bynum also said Tulsa is still striving to be more business-friendly. Building upon last year’s announcement the city would allow self-certification for certain real estate development projects, the city announced last month it’s merging the planning department with INCOG.
The next step is to hire more plan reviewers and work with third-party reviewers when a lot of applications come in at once.
"We will implement this overhaul in the first half of 2019, and it will shift the City of Tulsa’s average response time for initial building plan reviews from five weeks to five days," Bynum said.
Bynum said Tulsa has a reputation for being too slow processing permits.