In what is being called one of the largest deals in the nation for a private home, Oprah Winfrey, the talk show host, has purchased a 42-acre estate in Montecito, Calif., for $50 million.
This news led Oklahoma County Assessor Mike Means to ask: "Wouldn't it have been great if Oprah had moved to Oklahoma County? Just think about the positive impact that kind of value could add to our school districts?"
To find out, Means said, first, you take the $50 million and take the 11 percent assessed value of $5,499,000 after the $1,000 homestead exemption. When you take the assessed rate and multiply it by the millage rate for Oklahoma City Schools, Oprah would be providing about $577,395 per year in taxes for Oklahoma County.
Means said about 50 percent, or about $288,000, would go to public schools. The remainder of the money would go to vo-tech, libraries, the health department and other county operations, he said.
"That would be enough money to hire 10 new teachers and pay them nearly $29,000 a year, or purchase 200 brand-new computers and printers for our students," Means said.
But, if Means has his way, Oprah's Oklahoma County tax bill would be reduced. He suggests two options to lower property taxes.
"First, I'm suggesting we double the homestead exemption," Means said. The $1,000 homestead exemption has not been increased since 1935 and doubling it would save a typical Oklahoma County resident about $105 per year.
"I'm also suggesting a plan to help reduce taxes for senior citizens," he said. "Currently seniors have to make less than $25,000 to freeze property values." Means wants to increase that to $50,000.
"An added benefit may be that more seniors may opt to retire to Oklahoma if our property taxes for seniors were frozen," he said. Means said both issues could be passed in the special session of the Legislature.
An `A' for American Fidelity
American Fidelity Assurance has received an A (excellent) rating from Weiss Ratings Inc.
Wiess issues quarterly financial safety ratings on insurance companies. The "A" rating for American Fidelity was based on the Oklahoma City-based company's fiscal strength and financial security.
American Fidelity is the largest life and health insurance company based in Oklahoma City.
Stonebridge and Sonic
Stonebridge Technologies has developed a Web-enabled business performance management and analysis system for Sonic Corp.
Stonebridge, which delivered the solution to Sonic in less than 30 days, also provided project management, user documentation and training services.
The Web reporting system enables Sonic executives to access and analyze point-of-sale data via a secure enterprise information portal, James Ivy, president and CEO of Stonebridge, said.
The solution provides authorized users with at-a-glance reports of trends in product, store and market performance. The information can be used for in-depth analysis using the system's what-if forecasting and planning functions, he said.
"Sonic's Web reporting system is a prime illustration of the ways the Internet is becoming an integral part of day-to-day business operations and how it can positively affect internal business processes and speed decision-making across the enterprise," Ivy said.
Dallas-based Stonebridge has offices in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and eight other cities.
While Oklahoma swelters in triple-digit temperatures, the government agency that makes long-range weather forecasts is calling for above-average rain and average temperatures in the state and throughout the Midwest this summer.
The Climate Prediction Center in Silver Springs, Md., bases its long-range weather projections on water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, past weather patterns and other factors.
It is predicting …