By Emory Bryan, The News on 6
TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa City Council approved a plan to transfer money from utility payments to the general fund for grass mowing and graffiti removal Thursday night.
The proposal would transfer $746,500 from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE) fund to the City of Tulsa general fund for right of way mowing and graffiti removal. The majority of the money - $630,000 - would be for mowing and the remaining $116,500 would be for graffiti removal.
Last June, the TARE board approved the transfer, but the City Council did not accept the offer when it was considered in August. In the months since, the City's financial situation has worsened. A new council has been seated since then and Councilors have been looking for any available funds to prevent further cuts in service.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett has opposed the transfer all along, and Thursday said he still does.
"That money is really set aside by the TARE board to restore money taken from the rate payers," he said. "So I'm no so sure if that's really an appropriate use for it."
The City Council attorney, Drew Rees, advised councilors the TARE board might consider the earlier offer no longer valid and not provide the money to the City. Ultimately the council decided to move forward anyway.
"This is money paid by rate payers for trash service, not for mowing grass and painting over graffiti," Councilor John Eagleton said. "I think it's stealing. I'll vote against it."
But Councilor Bill Christiansen disagreed.
"I'm comfortable that this is the proper thing to do," he said.
The measure was a budget change and the council attorney tells me that requires approval of the mayor.
It's still unclear if it could be reversed by the trash board, so it's too early to say this money will be available for the city.