Tulsa Mayor Proposes New Fee To Raise City Revenue

Thursday, May 27th 2010, 5:12 pm
By: News On 6

By Tara Vreeland, The News On 6    

TULSA, OK -- What would you pay to have the expressway lights turned back on?  For the city's pools to reopen?  And for the Tulsa Police Department's helicopters to fly again?

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his administration proposed a plan Thursday to raise more revenue.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the proposal stems from what the people of Tulsa are asking for.  He says a $5 monthly fire utility fee added to city utility bills is all it would take.

5/12/2010 Related Story: City Of Tulsa Considering Fire Service Fee

"You hear the term getting down to muscle and bones and fiber and that's true," Mayor Bartlett said. "It's exactly where we are."

After one of the roughest economic years in recent history, Mayor Dewey Bartlett say the city assumes its revenues will be flat next year and doesn't want to be too optimistic.

"We don't want to come up with a figure for our revenues that we 'hope' will get better," he said. "We think the conservative approach is appropriate at this point and time."

He says he's been listening to what Tulsans say they are missing

Just to name a few, city pools, well-maintained parks and rights of way, lighting on the expressways, and the additional force and presence of the Tulsa Police Department's helicopter.

1/12/2010 Related Story: All Tulsa Interstate, Downtown Street Lights Likely To Be Turned Off Due To Cuts

4/14/2010 Related Story: Fewer Tulsa City Pools Will Be Open For Summer

5/10/2010 Related Story: Tulsa's Police Chief Outlines Budget Goals For The Next Fiscal Year

"Why can't we do these again? Well we can't do them because we don't have the money," Terry Simonson, Mayor's Chief of Staff, said. "It wasn't a choice of not doing them. It was the funds weren't there and when you get down to this kind of list, now you are affecting quality of life things."

The $5 fire utility fee would be similar to the EMSA utility bill fee and people could opt out of paying. Simonson says the proposition has a "sunset provision."

"This ordinance will end June 30th, 2011 unless city council decides to reenact it," he said. "They don't have to think it's a forever and ever thing. Its 12 months. You don't have to do it. Its $5."

The council says they will look over the plan for the next week. The Mayor's office says if the revenue enhancement proposal is approved, it will be the fiscal bridge the city needs.

"But if we don't do it, what you see is what you are going to get for another year," Simonson said.

The revenue enhancement proposal also includes increasing rates and fines for parking meters. It also includes raising the fee for police response to home alarm systems, most of which they say are false alarms.

5/25/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Delays Meter Increase, Many Still Inoperable