Three Tulsa city councilors express concern over proposed Great Plains bankruptcy settlement

Monday, November 7th 2005, 2:04 pm
By: News On 6

It seemed like a solid plan, non-stop flights from Tulsa to the coasts, but Great Plains Airlines never really took off and now it appears the city of Tulsa is left holding a multi-million dollar bag.

As News on 6 anchor Tami Marler explains, several city councilors aren't willing to pay the bill.

The trouble with Great Plains' two jets was, they never flew as far as the business plan outlined, direct from Tulsa to both coasts. It's part of what sold state and city leaders on financially backing Great Plains.

The city council voted unanimously in 2000, to use the city's Air Force Plant #3 as collateral.

Bank of Oklahoma is still owed $7.5-million and the current city council is at odds over whether to pay it. Tulsa city councilor Roscoe Turner: "The thing that has to happen, is a judge has to say 'City of Tulsa, this is your bill, you owe it.'"

Otherwise at least four of Tulsa's nine city councilors will not agree to settle, not before there's enough investigation into who is at fault for the debacle.

Tulsa city councilor Jim Mautino: "I can't determine that for sure, but certainly there is a part of it that rests in Bank of Oklahoma, part of it, the Chamber, part of it, Mayor Savage. They should be protecting our funds and the interests of the city."

Tulsa city councilor Chris Medlock: "The bottom line comes down to folks; the city of Tulsa does not owe this money. The airport board owes this money. Should a trial occur and a judge determine that the airport board is liable for more money than they could pay, at that time, we could enter into a settlement agreement that could prevent bankruptcy of the airport."

The Bank of Oklahoma has sued the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust to recover the outstanding $7.5-million dollars, so some councilors believe taxpayers should not be held liable until a judge names the city as a responsible party.

Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune supports a settlement. The council is scheduled to vote on Thursday.