A MAPS 4 Q&A with Mayor David Holt
You have questions about MAPS 4? Mayor David Holt has the answers.
Ahead of Tuesday’s MAPS 4 election, The Oklahoman wondered what questions were on voters’ minds.
Here are questions collected from public events promoting MAPS 4, with answers from Mayor David Holt. Holt took the lead in stitching together the 16 projects in MAPS 4 and has been its chief proponent at numerous speaking engagements.
Voters will decide whether to extend the one-cent MAPS sales tax for eight years, to raise an estimated $978 million.
Q. What is the biggest misconception you hear about MAPS?
A. Because of how long and transparently we discussed this package as a community, I would say knowledge about the package is actually pretty strong but if I had to identify some relatively common misconceptions, three come to mind.
• Some people assume it is a tax increase. In fact, it is not a tax increase. The rate will stay exactly the same if MAPS 4 passes.
• Some people assume it is downtown-centric. Just a glance at the project list reveals that virtually none of this is downtown. People have been asking to have a “MAPS for Neighborhoods” for a long time, and though we don’t actually call it that, that’s essentially what MAPS 4 is.
• Because there are parts of MAPS 4 that address things like mental health, substance abuse and domestic violence, some people sometimes assume there are programs in MAPS 4. In fact, every single project in MAPS 4 is still a building, just like always. MAPS is still a capital program. It’s just that this time, instead of just buildings for entertainment or visitors, there are some buildings in this package that help us all with the challenges we face in our daily lives.
Q. After MAPS 4 is finished, how are the maintenance costs of these projects funded?
A. MAPS 4 has thoughtfully and creatively included long-term maintenance costs like never before, although it builds on a concept that was included in MAPS 1. In that initiative, the city set aside operating endowments to get the projects on their feet. In MAPS 4, we’ve done that to an even greater extent and structured the operating funds to provide perpetual support for the ongoing operations and maintenance of the buildings. In every single project, we have contemplated and addressed the long-term operations and maintenance so that future policy makers don’t have to deal with some of the challenges we have had to face on recent MAPS projects. For more detail on these concepts, read the resolution detailing the program at okc.gov/maps4resolution.
The projects all work together to comprehensively improve our city.
Q. What project would begin first?
A. The citizens advisory board, working with the city council, would determine project order, just as in past MAPS.
Q. Do you include input from an organization which advocates for people with disabilities on projects, to help venues become more accessible?
A. Yes, the Mayor’s Committee on Disability Concerns has traditionally played this role. And of course all of us at City Hall want to prioritize accessibility.
Q. Is MAPS 4 also going to have a citizen oversight board? How will the advisory committee be selected?
A. Yes, as in past MAPS, the program will be overseen by a citizens advisory board. We anticipate a similar structure to MAPS 3. The mayor and city council will work together, as with all appointments, to make the selections. This would be the first order of business after passage.
Q. How will bus route improvements benefit me?
A. MAPS 4 is a transformational step forward for bus service. We’ll have better frequency, we’ll become arguably the best U.S. system in terms of shelters at bus stops, with 500 new shelters, and we’ll add bus rapid transit to the northeast and the south to match the line to the northwest we already have funded.
Q. How will MAPS 4’s initiatives on homelessness and affordable housing benefit me?
A. We’re all affected by homelessness issues and can all agree we want to get everyone off the street and into a home. That doesn’t happen magically; you have to take proactive steps. The housing in MAPS 4 works hand-in-hand with our existing nonprofit community to bring lasting solutions for those experiencing homelessness.
Q. What if I only support a few of the projects?
A. Then you vote yes. I joke in my speeches that the only person expected to like all the projects is me. The fact that MAPS addresses a broad spectrum of community needs is a virtue of the MAPS model. The projects all work together to comprehensively improve our city. And in a democratic society, we each have to accept that if your priorities are addressed, that it’s OK that someone else’s priorities are also addressed. I assure you that every single one of the 16 projects is deeply desired by a significant part of our city. The fact that there’s something for everyone in this package is a good thing. It’s a win-win outcome for our city.
Q. I care about parks and would like to see improvements in my neighborhood. Is this MAPS for me?
A. MAPS 4 is a once-in-a-generation investment in our parks and rec system, as well as our neighborhoods in general. At least $250 million of this package is focused on improving our parks and rec system, including upgrades to every single neighborhood park in our city. As for neighborhoods, so much of this package is focused on neighborhoods that it really could have been marketed as “MAPS for Neighborhoods.” From parks to beautification to senior wellness centers to youth centers to sidewalks to bike lanes to streetlights, it is transformational for neighborhoods across the city. This is the first MAPS ever officially endorsed by the Neighborhood Alliance, and there’s a reason for that.
What will you pay?
The Oklahoman’s MAPS 4 cost calculator can help you estimate how much of your sales tax would be allocated to MAPS 4 if the project is approved. Enter in an estimated monthly amount spent on items subject to sales tax — things like groceries, clothes, home supplies, decorations or other tangible products — to see how much MAPS 4 could cost you over the next 8 years.