MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) is a very unique capital improvement project system that Oklahoma City has been using since 1993. The first MAPS was approved by voters in 1993, putting a one-cent sales tax in place. When the tax expired in 1999, it had collected over $309 million (as well as $54 million accrued in interest). The MAPS program has been approved by voters four times now, allowing the city to fund several, invaluable projects. The one-cent sales tax allows the city to pay for these largescale projects completely debt-free. Because city residents are able to see and use the results of these projects in their community, the MAPS program is incredibly popular.
The first MAPS tax was only in effect for 66 months but was able to fund several downtown improvement projects including Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, Bricktown Canal, Civic Center Music Hall, the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library, and much more. The projects were considered complete in 2004 with the dedication of the downtown library. In 2001, voters approved OCMAPS or MAPS for Kids which provided $700 million for the benefit of Oklahoma City’s public-school students. This funding would go towards 70 new and renovated schools, technology projects, and new buses.
In 2009, MAPS 3 was approved, collecting $777 million from 2010 to 2017. MAPS 3 funding would go towards a new convention center, a downtown public park (now called Scissortail Park), modern streetcar and transit, Oklahoma State Fairgrounds improvements, senior health and wellness centers, Oklahoma River Improvements, trails, and sidewalks. The northern section of Scissortail park was completed in 2019 and the southern section will be completed in 2021. Already, Scissortail has become a huge community gathering place, hosting farmers markets, educational events, and fitness programs. While these large projects such as Scissortail parks and a convention center are very impactful to the Oklahoma City community, they are very concentrated to the downtown area. Projects such as sidewalks and trails are more likely to impact neighborhoods further from downtown, meeting the more immediate needs of these residents.
MAPS 4 was approved in 2019, with the temporary penny tax beginning in 2020 and lasting through 2028. It is projected that MAPS 4 will collect $978 million, funding projects such as neighborhood parks, youth centers, senior wellness centers, and more. These park projects include the construction of new parks further from downtown, impacting neighborhoods that need parks most. Other MAPS 4 projects include mental health and addiction help, homelessness, and a diversion hub. The diversity of projects in MAPS 4 will help spread the benefits of this funding around the city, hopefully helping all OKC residents, not just those near downtown.