Tulsa Cuts Early Settlement Program

Tuesday, May 12th 2009, 5:57 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- A mediation program backed by the City of Tulsa was cut out of the budget for next year.  It costs the city something to run it, but the people who use it say it saves the city even more.

Neil Brown runs a security company and when people don't pay their bill for monitoring, he uses the Early Settlement program through the City of Tulsa.

"We'll sit down and we'll talk and discuss payment arrangements, or why they haven't paid their bills, and my success rate is over 90%," said Neil Brown with Security Protection of Tulsa.

And, he gets that level of success for just $5 a case.

Early Settlement works by sending out letters to both sides in a dispute, who then go into mediation with a volunteer like Ned Dismukes.

"There is nothing more satisfying to me than helping people solve their problems," said Early Settlement mediator Ned Dismukes.

Dismukes is an attorney who has worked out hundreds of cases for early settlement, keeping the problems out of court.

"That people can learn to resolve their differences by not shouting at each other, or shooting at each other and there is a tremendous value to that and I think it makes Tulsa a better city," said Early Settlement mediator Ned Dismukes.

Dismukes believes the city gets a valuable return on the investment in early settlement, but perhaps needs to find a different way to pay for it so it's not on the chopping block at city hall.

"If you come to the table, you're 50% of the way to solving your problems and if you let this work, we can get you a resolution of whatever it is," said Early Settlement mediator Ned Dismukes.

Neil Brown agrees.  He's used the Early Settlement program for 20 years to get non paying customers to pay up.

"And, this is the easiest way, and you don't lose the rapport you have with your customer," said Neil Brown with Security Protection of Tulsa.

For more information call 918-596-7786.