Negotiations between the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County regarding inmate fees have been ongoing for years.
"We have known that negotiations, that they haven't reached an agreement yet,” said city council member Anna America. “And we have expected that the mayor would come back to us with a proposal on how to deal with that."
Monday, News On 6 learned one option the mayor is considering is creating the city's own independent jail. Currently, the City of Tulsa does not have one and relies exclusively on Tulsa County to house the city's inmates.
“What's the best way to deliver the best services at the best cost to our taxpayers?” is one question considered America stated.
Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo says the idea of an independent city jail comes as a shock to him.
"Because that has not been something that has been talked about,” he said. "I would be very disappointed if the city decided to do that."
Smaligo says the rate increase approved by the commissioners last week, $69 a day, is generous to the city and is the best option for both elected leaders and residents.
"I think more than we are hoping to pay, but I have confidence in the mayor and his negotiating that he'll come forward with a proposal,” said America.
We asked Mayor G.T. Bynum to comment on the story, he gave us the following statement:
"I will present a proposal to the Council by the end of the month and will not have a comment before that discussion."
If the city does decide to create their own jail, Smaligo says the cost will add up faster than city leaders think.
"They are going to very, very quickly realize the cost associated with that and the extraordinarily good deal they've been receiving from Tulsa County,” he said.
If the mayor proposes the city create an independent jail, he would have to allocate funds to do so before the city council would vote on it.