City Council Takes Action To Control Sewer Line Insurance Profits
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa City Council took action this week to get control of some money that was leaving city hall.
It is profit from a sewer line insurance program - money that's been used outside the normal budget until now.
It was something of a revelation to the council when they realized more than $400,000 has been spent without their input.
It's called a service line warranty, and every year, Tulsa utility customers get the offer. And while it's on what looks like City letterhead, it's a private service and the City gets a cut - at least it was supposed to.
During Mayor Dewey Bartlett's administration, the money ended up at the regional planning office of INCOG. It went for expenses like $50,000 to lobby the Air Force for new fighter jets in Tulsa.
City councilors didn't object to how INCOG spent the money, just that it was INCOG priorities - not theirs.
City Councilor Anna America said, "I personally like the program, but, as a customer, much less a city councilor, I didn't know the program is generating a profit if you will, that is being spent on other services."
Company records show 20,000 Tulsans use the plan, paying $79 a year. That amounts to $1.58 million each year in premiums.
The company paid out $1 million total for 2,600 claims. The City's cut so far is $424,000 - money the City didn't get to spend.
In one of Mayor G.T. Bynum's first budget changes, the council acted to get control of what's left of the money. Bynum said, "It's not appropriate to be generating money not run through our normal budget."
And the council agrees.
America said, "And it's been spent on a variety of programs, but none of those programs are things that we identified as our priorities, and we being the City of Tulsa, with the mayor presenting a budget and the city council approving it."
The city contract with the company runs through next August.
The council acted Wednesday to start that flow of money into the City but most of what's been generated so far was already spent.