Mayor Agrees To Put One Tulsa Police Helicopter Back In Service

Tuesday, July 13th 2010, 5:21 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, The News On 6

TULSA, OK --  Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett gives the go ahead to take one police helicopter out of storage, but it appears to be the only concession he's willing to make to the city council until next month.

The decision came as the mayor got an earful from city councilors about his refusal to spend nearly 3-million dollars they want to go toward city services.

The city council peppered Mayor Bartlett with question after question Tuesday morning, wondering why he's not spending money they've put in the budget.

"I had all kinds of things happen to me since I have been a councilor but I think this is the top of the list, the top of the list," said Councilor Jack Henderson.

Councilor Maria Barnes said, "We wouldn't have put this stuff in the budget if we didn't have the funds for it."

"Simply because a budget was passed doesn't mean that amount of money just magically appears,"  responded Mayor Bartlett.

The money is a surplus from last year's budget.

6/23/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Vetoes City Council's Budget Changes

It would restore the salaries of firefighters who took a 5.2% pay cut, turn the lights back on along highways in the city, buy salt and sand in preparation for winter and put both police helicopters back in service.

Mayor Bartlett has decided to take one helicopter out of storage but says he wants to make sure the money is actually available before committing to spending any more of it.

"In my view," said Mayor Bartlett, "we still have to be pretty conservative about how we approach governing this city and do it in a way that we don't spend all of our money.

The council unanimously disagrees with the mayor, saying the money is available.  Some councilors believe he's simply trying to exert control.

"I still think that it's only because he wants to do it," said Councilor Henderson.

It seems their patience is wearing thin.

When asked how he would characterize his thoughts on the answers he received from the mayor, Councilor Rick Westcott said, "I...I want to be fair, Dan."

Councilor Westcott says the decision to return only one police helicopter to service is not enough to protect the public.

But the mayor says if all of the money is there by the beginning of next month he'll restore every one of those services.