- Associated Press - Sunday, December 21, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The mayor of Tulsa is proposing a public safety tax to address needs in police and fire protection and street maintenance.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s proposal would extend 0.2 percent of the 0.6 percent Vision 2025 tax that expires in 2016 to generate about $15 million per year, the Tulsa World reported Sunday (https://bit.ly/1vdXcwo ).

Bartlett has called for about 70 new Tulsa police officers, 16 dispatchers, 15 staff for pothole repairs and 18 technicians to work with Tulsa’s stop lights. The street maintenance portion calls for more crews to repair streets. The final piece, which is expected to be announced in January, will focus on funding for the Tulsa Fire Department.

Roy Teeters, director of the city’s Streets and Stormwater Department, said Bartlett’s proposal is needed to get staffing levels back up, but it still falls well short of optimum staffing.

“What the mayor’s asking for now is critical emergency needs,” Teeters said. “The mayor’s plan is a really good start on that, but it doesn’t get us back to 2000.”

Jarred Brejcha, Bartlett’s chief of staff, said that in 2000 about 80 employees were dedicated to the job of protecting against and repairing potholes.

“Now, they’re down to 38,” Brejcha said. “They’re not getting to all those potholes.”

According to overall traffic operations at the city, 52 new staff are needed to meet minimum standards and 140 are needed to meet optimal staffing.

Brejcha said the problem is past cuts that hit all city departments.

The public safety tax proposal is focusing on adding to the core services that help to reduce certain public safety risks as well as help preserve infrastructure like streets, he said. In the past, budget cuts have caused employees to add to their responsibilities to make up for lost positions, Brejcha said.

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Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com


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