Tulsa City Council Fails To Strip TARE Authority

Thursday, November 3rd 2011, 9:39 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News on 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Tulsa City Council attempted to strip TARE of it's authority to regulate Tulsa's trash service, but the measure failed by one vote. TARE, better known as the trash board, had already retained legal counsel to defend itself against the actions of the City Council.

The Council vote was to override a veto of their ordinance to take away TARE's authority. Mayor Dewey Bartlett vetoed the original ordinance. The Council vote to override 5-4. Councilors G.T. Bynum, Bill Christiansen, Chris Trail and Jack Henderson voted against the override, with Councilors Rick Westcott, Jim Mautino, John Eagleton, Roscoe Turner, and Maria Barnes voting for the override.

Because the vote was to override a veto, it failed despite having a majority of the councilors in support of it.

TARE is in the middle of contract negotiations for Tulsa's trash service and is focusing on a volume based cost structure with once a week pickup. Councilors say citizens are solidly against any changes. The current contract for trash service ends June 30th, 2012.

"TARE has become a rogue appendage of government" said Councilor John Eagleton, arguing that TARE should be eliminated to ensure twice a week trash service continues in most of Tulsa. One-fourth of Tulsa, the Northwest quadrant, already has once a week service.

Councilor Bill Christiansen said he has received thousands of emails about trash service from people who do not want the service to change.

Christiansen said Councilors were told in executive session that they could be personally sued if they tried to take away TARE's authority. TARE is a city created board with the authority to regulate service without interference from political leaders.

Christiansen said he was voting against the override because of the threat of being personally liable. "Our hands are tied" said Christiansen.

Councilor G.T. Bynum said "Folks think the City Council has control over this, and every legal opinion I've seen says that's not the case." Bynum said the Mayor has control of the board, with the authority to nominate board members and a seat on the board as well. "The rate-payers are having a service forced on them they don't want" said Bynum, which he blamed on a lack of leadership from the TARE board.

Councilor Jack Henderson complained about the legal opinions that although the Council created TARE, it cannot eliminate it. "It's like creating a monster, once you create it you can't do anything with it" said Henderson.

Councilor Rick Westcott blamed a lack of leadership at city hall for the dispute over trash pickup, blaming both the Mayor and City Attorneys office for not guiding TARE. "We tried everything we can to represent the citizens on this" said Westcott, who said the Council has been stonewalled at every opportunity.

11/01/2011 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Votes To Change Trash Pickup Requirements