Mayor Says Splitting Tulsa's Public Works Department Will Save Money, Improve Service

Thursday, April 7th 2011, 2:54 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- There's a shakeup at City Hall underway, which will take Tulsa back to the days when commissioners ran big city departments.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett plans to break up public works and have one person oversee each division, thinning out at least one layer of management.

Public Works is the largest division of manpower and muscle at Tulsa City Hall. They have the most people and equipment, but the Mayor plans to break it up, which he says will save money for taxpayers and improve service at the same time.

Mayor Bartlett announced what for city hall will be the biggest reorganization in 30 years. The 1,400 employees of Public Works will be divided into three departments focusing on streets, water, and engineering services.

"And at the end of the day what the public will see is an improved quality of service," Bartlett said.

The Public Works breakup will change the old structure of one big department into three smaller departments. The old public works department has 1 director and 4 deputies. The new model has no director, but three chiefs, one for each smaller section.

See the new model of the Public Works Department

The possible savings comes with fewer administrators, and eliminated duplication in the workforce.

"Right now when an individual calls the city, they might talk to 3-4 different people and not get a call back, so we're in the process of stopping that. We want to be customer service oriented," Mayor Bartlett said.

One example is the Mayor's Action Center, which Bartlett plans to expand with 30 employees from several call centers now inside public works. The larger Action Center will handle calls about everything from utility bills to potholes.

"We will eventually have "one call,"" he said. "So people will be able to call the City of Tulsa with one number, and that person will be able to answer their question and give them information."

About 125 employees of public works will move to other departments, but Bartlett said few, if any, people would need to be cut. For example, the change will consolidate scattered workforces of engineering into one group, but they'll still have just as much work that needs to be done.

After the reorganization, the water department would be the largest of the bunch, with 657 employees.

Streets will have 456 employees and engineering will have 166 people. The other 125 employees will move to other departments in the city.