Oklahoma City
May 16, 2019
Bill Shapard

Oklahoma City voters want some of the MAPS4 tax spent on operations and maintenance of city park and transit

Oklahoma City voters like the MAPS sales taxes and the projects that are making a positive impact on the city, but according to the latest poll, voters want to see the upcoming MAPS4 monies also spent on the operations and maintenance of these capital projects, as well as city parks and the city transit system.


Fifty-seven percent of likely special-election city voters supported operations and maintenances costs being included in any future MAPS4 proposal, including 57.3 percent of Republicans and 61.7 percent of Independents.

When asked how any MAPS4 monies should be spent a few questions later in the survey, nearly half (47.9 percent) wanted at least half spent on the operations and maintenance of the MAPS projects like the new Scissortail Park and the downtown streetcar. Another 21.6 percent wanted to spend a quarter of new monies on operations and maintenance, meaning 69.5 percent of city likely voters want to spend a quarter or more of any future MAPS4 monies on operations and maintenance.

Only 13.9 percent wanted to spend the full MAPS penny on new capital projects only.

"While the public is clearly in the mood to provide improvements in parks, transit, mental health, homelessness and biking infrastructure," said former city councilor Ed Shadid upon reviewing the poll results, "they also overwhelming seem to realize that it is financially irresponsible to build things without having a funding source to provide for the operations and maintenance of those investments."

[QUESTION] In the MAPS3 program, the roughly $800 million collected from the 1-cent sales tax has gone towards building things or capital spending with none of the money dedicated towards operations and maintenance costs. Once the MAPS3 projects are built, the new operations and maintenance costs are almost exclusively paid from the city's existing general budget. For example, the streetcar costs are approximately $3 million per year to operate and the new downtown park will cost $3-4 million per year to operate. Knowing this, do you SUPPORT or OPPOSE reserving a portion of the 1-cent MAPS tax to pay operations and maintenance costs?

1. Strongly support 33.8%
2. Somewhat support 23.3
3. No opinion/Don't know/Refused [DNR] 9.2
4. Somewhat oppose 12.2
5. Strongly oppose 21.5

When likely voters were asked about increased funding for city parks and transit system, a large majority supported monies being spent to not only operate and maintain these city resources but also to improve facilities and increased transit hours and amenities.

Sixty-nine percent of likely voters supported a 1/8-cent sales tax for city park operations with the addition of better restrooms, and activities for children and adults including athletic complexes.  Nearly sixty percent supported a 1/8-cent sales tax in the operations and maintenance of the city transit system, including greater frequency of service, expanded hours to include evenings and weekends, and quality bus shelters.

When voters were informed that Oklahoma City spends 28 percent of what a typical midwestern city spends on park maintenance, including the city's low ranking among other cities, 59.6 percent were more likely to support a 1/8-cent sale tax for the city's parks.

Also, once likely voters were informed that the new Scissortail Park would cost 3-4 million dollars to operate and maintain, and that these monies would have to come out of an already overburdened parks budget that struggles to maintain the current 6,000 acres of parks throughout the city's neighborhoods, 57.9 percent were more likely to support a 1/8-cent dedicated funding source for the city's parks.

An even greater amount, 64 percent, were also more likely to support a portion of the MAPS4 monies on the city's public transit system once learning that Oklahoma City was the largest city in America, during the MAPS3 funding, without public bus transportation on Sundays and in the evenings.

Former city councilors Sam Bowman and Pete White also had a chance to comment on the poll results.

"Efforts made in previous years at improving public transit in OKC through improving frequency and routes of our bus system has been too slow," Bowman said. "We are losing time and getting further and further behind; change has been too graduated and having a dedicated funding source for transit operations will get us there."

"The poll results confirm my long held belief that the most transformative project that OKC can undertake is 'Big League' attention to existing OKC parks," said White. "Quality maintenance and programming in our parks is essential to the quality of life the citizens of OKC want and deserve."

About the Poll

SoonerPoll.com, Oklahoma’s public opinion pollster, conducted the poll and it was commissioned by former city councilor Ed Shadid.

The scientific study was conducted from April 24 - May 9, 2019 with 406 likely voters selected at random in the city of Oklahoma City from a tri-frame of both landline telephone and cell phones, plus SoonerPoll's proprietary online panel. The sample was weighted by age and congressional district in order to reflect the likely voter population of Oklahoma City for a special election. The weighting was conducted using a 'layered technique.'

The sample reflects the traditional demographical profile of Oklahoma City likely voters. The study has a Margin of Error (MoE) of ± 4.85 percent.

This poll not only conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls but exceeds the standard disclosure with a Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report. A complete description of the methodology can be found here.

The poll's Call Disposition and Rate Calculation Report can be viewed here.  A beta version of the Weighting Table Report can be viewed here.

Bill Shapard
About the Author

Bill Shapard

Bill is the founder of SoonerPoll.com and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on major campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004.