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Voters decide Tuesday on parks initiative

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Bicyclists ride through Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Bicyclists ride through Scissortail Park in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]

Five times in the past, Oklahoma City voters have approved citizens' initiatives. On Tuesday, voters could approve a sixth.

Voters are deciding Tuesday on a one-eighth cent sales tax dedicated to parks. Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Should it pass, the city's Parks and Recreation Department would benefit from the same annual amount, about $13 million, reserved for the Oklahoma City Zoo.

Voters also have dedicated a portion of the sales tax to support police and fire protection.

Under the ordinance proposed to voters, the parks tax could be used for programs including athletic leagues and exercise classes; trees, flower beds and shrubs; soccer goals, baseball backstops and bleachers, and everyday operating expenses.

Excluded are mowing and funding for parks such as Myriad Gardens, Scissortail Park and the MAPS 3 whitewater park that are managed by private foundations.

Advocates say they expect the dedicated funding stream to support programs in neighborhood parks and recreation centers.

Parks and Recreation Director Doug Kupper has said the 50% increase in funding would support quality programs at low cost or even free to participants.

The measure goes before voters as the city manager is directing Parks and Recreation to cut spending by $368,000 in 2020-21.

Organizers of the petition drive collected nearly 8,000 signatures to qualify the parks initiative for Tuesday's ballot.

Here are the previous citizens' initiatives that won voters' approval:

• In 1934, voters amended the city charter to require an extension of the Oil Drilling Zone.

• In 1935, voters repealed regulations on use of public streets.

• In 1939, voters adopted an ordinance fixing the number of board of education members.

• In 1989, voters approved a three-quarters cent sales tax dedicated to public safety.

• In 1990, voters approved a one-eighth cent sales tax dedicated to the Oklahoma City Zoo.

William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›