Tulsa County Wants City To Provide Security At Tulsa State Fair

Thursday, August 6th 2009, 3:48 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - There's a dispute over who should keep people safe at the Tulsa State Fair.  Tulsa County wants to shift the security job over to the City of Tulsa.  The fair starts October 1st, but so far Tulsa County hasn't decided what to do about security.

The fair board believed the city would take over the job this year, but the city has turned them down, unless the county pays for it at an estimated cost of $300,000.

Tulsa County Sheriff's deputies have always patrolled the fair, but after the city annexed the fairgrounds this year, the county assumed the job and the expense would be passed along to the city.

10/3/2008 Related story: Security Change Planned For Next Year's Fair

"When they made a decision to annex, they should have been looking at the responsibility they have to provide services, one of which is law enforcement," said Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry.

But, Tulsa Police believe the cost of patrolling the fair remains a county responsibility and more importantly should be at county expense.


"If the fair board wants to hire Tulsa Police for that event, beyond what we will do outside the grounds, beyond what we would do responding to 911 calls, yeah, they're going to have to pay for that.  It's their move," said Tulsa Police Chief Ron Palmer.

The annexation added a city sales tax to products sold on the fairgrounds and doesn't impact what the county makes off the fair.  But, the county could save a lot by shifting the cost of law enforcement over to the city.

"A $250 or $300,000 hit to our bottom line is significant.  You don't think that should be an expense of the fair?  We think it's the city's responsibility," said Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry.

The city says it's treating the fair as any other private, special event, from BOK Center events to the PGA.  While those events pick up the cost of extra law enforcement, the county believes policing the fair was part of the deal that came with annexation.

The city says the decision is final, but the county hopes for a reversal of course.