A possibly costly mistake for the city of Tulsa

Wednesday, February 23rd 2005, 10:29 am
By: News On 6

One of the two city of Tulsa elections set for April 5th has to be delayed. It was a mistake in printing that caused the problem.

Now the city council and mayor disagree on whether a huge bond election package should be delayed as well. Some councilors think it's a sure-fire savings - the mayor thinks it's a gamble. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan has the story.

There’s an important election coming up on $250-million worth of spending by the city. It's for the basics - things like street repair and money for police officers to have better equipment. The mayor believes people are counting on voting on it, April 5th. Mayor Bill LaFortune: "We have a situation where the general obligation bond issue is set for April 5th -- everybody focused - ready to support that bond issue.”

The problem is with an election to give the council and homeowners more say on rezoning issues - it's a charter change. The city is supposed to advertise elections in a local newspaper long before the day of the vote. But the city missed its own deadline and now the charter change election can't legally go on.

The bond election and charter change were both set for April 5th. The charter vote has to be delayed until at least May. Moving the bond vote to May would eliminate the first election, saving taxpayers as much as one $100,000. City councilor Bill Christensen: “and the fact is we have a lot of things in this city that $100,000 could be used for.” Councilor Christensen says combing possibly three elections in May makes sense. "Just because the money is available in the budget doesn't mean we have to spend it."

The mayor says it's the charter change election that's not worth a special election. He says it can wait. “If they want to put it to the voters, they can, at the next municipal election, and that wouldn't cost an extra dollar.” The council makes the decision on what votes are held when.

There's probably going to be an election in May regardless, to replace councilor Sam Roop, and to consider recalling Councilors Medlock and Mautino. The mayor worries that waiting on the bond issue could be a mistake because interest rates are rising and on a $250-million loan - the slightest change would be more than $100,000.