Tulsa Leaders Gauging Public Support On Paying More To Stay Safe
TULSA, Oklahoma - According to Tulsa City Hall, keeping you safe could cost you more money. Some city councilors say it’s worth it, but the mayor disagrees.
Tuesday, the council convened at OSU-Tulsa for the last town hall meeting on public safety to gauge support from the public on paying for more police officers and firefighters.
As the council continues to work on what's visionary and what's not, the money needed for public safety keeps growing.
Councilors learned their public safety wish list would require a tax increase; it's too much money for the three-tenths of a cent some of them had hoped could meet the need.
The police and fire departments have research that shows they need many more people, but Mayor Dewey Bartlett, especially, is pushing back at the cost.
"The public is supportive of public safety, but they're also supportive of not increasing our taxes," he said.
The fire department usually has three firefighters on each truck but wants four to get more people on a scene faster.
But the fire chief and mayor disagree on the value of that, and there's a dispute with Police Chief Chuck Jordan, too.
"Our officers, as few as we are, are attempting to interact well with the community," Jordan said.
He wants to add 175 officers - the recommended number from a new study - but the mayor believes he can do with 140 to start.
Bartlett said, "I think that's fine, and it's going to take us many, many, years to get to that point, no matter how many we want to have."
For the police union, there's growing frustration with political division on asking the public to pay more for more officers.
Clay Ballenger with the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police, said, "And I think it shows courage for these councilors to say, knowing it's going to take more tax income from the citizens, to say that's our goal, that's what we need."
The council has two sessions set to pare down their vision lists this month and next, and the vote on vision and public safety money is planned for April.