6 Investigates: TCSO Routinely Behind In Paying Jail Utility Bills

Wednesday, January 20th 2016, 11:27 pm
By: News On 6

The Tulsa County Jail has risked having its utilities cut off a dozen times in the past two years.

Records obtained by News On 6 show the sheriff's office is repeatedly late paying utility bills - often owing the City of Tulsa $100,000 or more.

The sheriff's office has been late paying its utility bills the past five months. The city utilities manager said it is common practice that the sheriff's office waits until the day before utilities are scheduled to be shut off to swoop in and pay.

The Tulsa County Jail has received 12 utility cutoff notices in the past two years.

The sheriff's office is supposed to pay City of Tulsa utility bills for water, sewer and stormwater, and it does - late.

The overdue statements total as much as $115,000; something that has residents like Kelsey Killough and Randy McIntosh concerned.

Killough: "That's not okay."
Allison: "Does that make you concerned for whoever you're visiting?"
Killough: "Absolutely. That makes me concerned for everybody in here. Everybody has some family in here or somebody they love in here and that's not okay."

Utilities were going to get cut off Wednesday, but the sheriff's office pulled the same Hail Mary pass it’s pulled a dozen times - paying the balance right before the cutoff.

"How are they going to use the bathroom, or take showers, or get any water? I hate to hear that," McIntosh said.

Resident Star Hudson said, "I mean they're getting so much money from these inmates being in there, they're not paying their bills. That's ridiculous."

We called Tulsa County Commissioners to ask if they were aware of the pattern, they were not. One commissioner said, "The sheriff's office is the gift that keeps on giving."

Allison: "Is it frustrating to know that the sheriff's office has neglected to pay these bills?"
Killough: "It's a concern because my taxes go to pay these bills. So, I mean, I'm sitting here wondering where all my money's going now."

McIntosh said, "I mean, we have to pay our bills don't we? They need to get that together."

The City of Tulsa utilities manager said by paying bills late the sheriff's office gets services free for 40 days while city collections agents are forced to spend time hassling them.
As of Wednesday afternoon, records show the overdue balance is paid off.

A city spokesperson said the jail's utilities have not been cut off in the past two years.

No one at the sheriff's office returned our calls for comment.