Downtown Coordinating Council Monitoring Bill To Let Some Hotels Opt Out Of Improvement Districts

Feb 22, 2021

Updated Feb. 22, 9:10 a.m.  

A City of Tulsa entity focused on boosting downtown is carefully watching a state Senate bill out of concern it may undermine its work.

The Downtown Coordinating Council has an eye on Senate Bill 489, which would let certified historic hotels opt out of an improvement district — areas created by local governments where an assessment can be levied on businesses to pay for marketing services, improvements not related to streets and other benefits.

DCC Executive Director Brian Kurtz said in a meeting last week he thinks the bill is being pushed by people who are unhappy with a proposed citywide tourism district, but as written, it would let hotels receiving a one-time tax credit opt out of any type of business improvement district.

"I think what it ultimately does is opens the door for any entity, property owner type that is not happy with an improvement district to seek a change at the state level for a concern that they have at a local level," Kurtz said.

The DCC oversees services funded by the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District, which is comprised of properties within the Inner Dispersal Loop. The stadium improvement district also pays for bonds on ONEOK Field.

The city and Tulsa Regional Chamber are stuck in a legal battle over a citywide improvement district that would levy a 3% assessment on hotels with 110 rooms or more in order to pay for ramped-up tourism marketing.

"Locally, the chamber is aware of this and has some concerns about the impact it could have on not only the Tourism Improvement District but the overall improvement districts as well," Kurtz said.

SB489 is authored by Sen. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole). It has not yet been scheduled for a committee hearing.