Agreement On Jail Inmate Fees Between City, County Could Happen Soon

Monday, July 31st 2017, 11:13 am

Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa could be close to settling a dispute over the cost of keeping inmates in the jail.

The difference of opinion between the City and County amounts to millions of dollars in expenses for one or the other. It's all taxpayer money, the question is who will pay and how much.

The disagreement is over the cost of keeping city inmates in the county jail - over what is the actual cost, or even on a clear definition of a "city" inmate.

It's boiled over in the last few County Commission meetings, where Commissioner John Smaligo blamed the City for confusing the issue, and fellow commissioners for not enforcing terms of the existing contract.

"Nowhere in that document does it talk about negotiating a price, it says the County Commissioners only will make that determination, and I think it's long past time for the commissioners to do that," he said.

Commissioner Ron Peters is handling talks with the City and said an agreement is so close it could be ready for a vote next week.

“I’d like to resolve it for the long-term,” Peters said.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum confirmed progress, but said, "Those good-faith discussions have been productive but significant differences of opinion remain."

12/30/2016 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Tours Jail; Hopes To Reach Contract Deal Between City, County

Three-and-a-half years into the dispute, the commissioners want a resolution, and Sheriff Vic Regalado wants certainty for the budget.

"This has lingered too much. There has been too much finger pointing. The jail has been audited more times than I can count, and those audits audited, and nothing ever has been found," he said.

Smaligo wants commissioners to agree on a flat fee so the City can take it or leave it. The other commissioners argued for one more week for more talks.

The commissioners wanted something by next Monday. Late Monday, the mayor said he'll have a draft agreement ready by the end of August.