Tulsa city councilors have their own budget ideas
BY P.J. LASSEK & BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writers
Sunday, April 22, 2012
4/22/12 at 9:01 AM
Read the complete City Hall articles.
Original Print Headline: Council has its budget ideas
Tulsa city councilors have their own ideas about what they would like to see prioritized in Mayor Dewey Bartlett's proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1.
District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson: A longtime advocate of the city's parks system, Henderson said he wants to see more money devoted toward maintaining and improving it.
"Closing swimming pools and rec centers ... that's not helping a community that is suffering and certainly won't help a community grow," he said.
"In the old days, if you had a neighborhood that had a good park, a good school and it was safe, that was the perfect place to live."
District 2 Councilor Jeannie Cue: A freshman councilor, Cue said she's learning and studying the city's finances and asking for constituent input.
"I have to be their voice," she said, adding that making sure public safety is a top priority is something she hears.
District 3 Councilor David Patrick: The mayor needs to address the 911 center and "the difficulties they've had with quick response to calls," he said.
"It's not acceptable for people to call 911 and be on hold for 10 minutes," Patrick said. "If this part of the system is broken, it doesn't make the city's overall public safety very effective.
"It won't matter how many people you put in police and fire if it takes a half-hour to get the call to them."
District 4 Councilor Blake Ewing: A downtown entrepreneur who has placed some of his council efforts toward economic development issues, Ewing said he wants the redevelopment of the Route 66 corridor and funding for Main Street programs reflected in the budget. "Route 66 is the most underutilized asset in the city," he said.
Ewing, who is in his first term, also noted that municipalities "all over the state fund their Main Street programs to some degree. Tulsa needs to make that investment, too."
District 5 Councilor Karen Gilbert: A freshman councilor, Gilbert said she wants to see the budget focus on public safety.
"I'd like to see officers put back onto neighborhood beats," she said. "Right now, there are so many home invasions, it's just unbelievable."
District 6 Councilor Skip Steele: When he went on a ride-along with Tulsa firefighters, Steele was surprised to learn fire trucks don't have GPS systems and that map books are used to find the way to burning buildings.
Steele said he would support funding GPS devices for the Fire Department. "Getting to a house as quickly as possible is very important," he said.
The new councilor also said his east Tulsa district lacks a lot of the amenities that other districts have. He wants all to be treated equally.
District 7 Councilor Tom Mansur: Recent tours of the council districts uncovered a lot of city needs, said Mansur, another freshman councilor.
"The housing in north Tulsa really disturbs me," he said.
Mansur said he hopes to see a relationship between the mayor's budget and the mayor-council goals and objectives. "And if, indeed, making Tulsa a safe city is a priority, I'd like to see a boost in resources for public safety."
District 8 Councilor Phil Lakin: A freshman councilor, Lakin said he hasn't given the upcoming budget much thought.
"Being so new, I will look to the veterans and those who have been through this process before to provide me with some guidance," he said.
"I'm going in with a real broad scope, if you will, trying to figure out where (the mayor) wants us to go, while remembering the promises I made on the campaign trail and the needs I heard from the constituents."
Safety is a main issue of residents, Lakin said.
District 9 Councilor G.T. Bynum: In the last decade, Tulsa's 911 system has dropped from 130 positions to 91.
"That's the budget issue I want to focus on this year - restoring our 911 staffing levels to pre-recession levels," Bynum said.
"We spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on public safety in infrastructure and personnel, and yet the only way for Tulsans to access that is through the 911 system.
"I hear at least on a weekly basis from people who call 911 and listen to it ring and ring and ring. People don't call 911 for casual chit-chat. They are calling because there's an emergency."