Tulsa Mayor: City Employees Working In Unacceptable Conditions
TULSA, Oklahoma - Roughly $500 million in taxpayer dollars is up for grabs in Tulsa, and the Mayor is working to figure out how that money should be spent to improve the city. G.T. Bynum has been touring the city’s parks, police and fire departments, and other facilities to get a first hand look at how badly infrastructure needs repaired or replaced.
"These are not acceptable working conditions for the best public employees in any city,” said Bynum of a city dump truck.
"You get in that thing and the floorboard is rusted out, your feet go right through the bottom of it. You think some person in our city is having to drive that truck around in freezing temperatures, and it's awful that we ask that of our employees."
The Street Maintenance Division said a lot of the dump trucks equipped with plows were made in 2003 but should be replaced every 10 years.
"These trucks are really bad. I mean we can't even use them now for hauling material, because the beds are so rusted,” said Leon Kragel, Operations Supervisor.
"If you kind of touch on some of the truck, I mean you see the cancer. You can see where it’s cracked through, on a lot of them.”
He said the average cost for a truck ranges from $165,000 to $210,000.
“The hole isn’t just a safety hazard for our drivers. The problem is they’re also breathing in fumes from the exhaust,” said Kragel.
Bynum said they’re not the only trucks in the city that are in dire need of replacement.
“It’s police cars. It’s fire trucks,” said Bynum.
“We hit a point last year where we almost did not have an operating ladder truck. I mean it was an emergency situation, because so many of our trucks were breaking down."
The Mayor said many of the fire trucks don’t have working air conditioning. Others are from the 1990s.
"If a 911 call comes in for help, and a police officer's car breaks down on the way, they're not able to help that Tulsan,” he said. “If a fire truck breaks down, which we have happening more and more frequently, they can't get to fires when they need to."
Bynum said he’ll start working with the city council in February to develop a draft proposal. Then there will be town hall meetings for public input.
"Tulsans are going to be sick of hearing about this program by the time they got to vote on it in November,” said Bynum. “We really want their feedback and to know what else needs improved in our city.”
Of the roughly $500 million in property and sales tax dollars, he said he expects 70% to go to street, sidewalk and bridge repairs. The last ‘Improve our City’ program was approved in 2013 for a similar dollar amount.