City Hall report
BY BRIAN BARBER & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Sunday, December 09, 2012
12/09/12 at 4:41 AM
Read complete coverage of Tulsa’s City Hall.
"I love that all things around us have the possibility of being better than they are today. It's just who I am to want to see us achieve the very best." - Councilor Blake Ewing, before being sworn in for a new two-year term.
"Now that you are re-elected, you can say that." - City Councilor G.T. Bynum, during a council committee meeting, in response to Councilor Jack Henderson's statement that he agreed with Bynum on an issue.
Week in review
Inauguration: Three Tulsa city councilors were sworn in Monday during a ceremony at Gilcrease Museum, including Arianna Moore, who at age 25 is the youngest person to ever serve on the City Council.
Moore, a MetLife employee, was elected to District 7. Incumbent Councilors Blake Ewing of District 4 and Jack Henderson of District 1 also secured new two-year terms.
At a meeting following the inauguration, Councilor David Patrick was voted by his colleagues to be the new council chairman, and Councilor Karen Gilbert was selected as the vice chairwoman.
The council leadership positions are changed each year.
Council raises: Councilor Jack Henderson during Monday's inauguration ceremony announced that a priority of his will be trying to get pay raises for councilors.
Henderson has long maintained that the $18,000 annual salary is too low.
Even though the councilor positions were meant to be part-time, he said, they involve full-time work.
Councilors soon will start discussing what charter amendments city voters should consider next fall.
Henderson has tried before to pursue an amendment but has never gotten enough support from his fellow councilors to put it on a public ballot.
In 2007, he proposed making the councilor salary $52,500 - half of the mayor's $105,000 salary.
Councilors' pay was last increased in 2001, from $12,000. It was the first time councilors had received a raise since the City Council was formed in 1990.
No trial: Councilors voted 7-2 Thursday to not grant firefighter Jeremy Moore his requested trial for them to determine whether there was sufficient cause for his claimed demotion.
This came after City Attorney David O'Meilia issued a formal legal opinion earlier in the day that a trial based on Moore's case was not justified.
The City Charter allows a firefighter to request an open trial in front of the council but only if "written charges" are filed against them by the Fire Department chief or the mayor, according to the opinion.
That did not happen in this case, the opinion indicates. Moore was never formally promoted, so he could not be demoted, and no charges of misconduct or violation of rules or policies have been made against him.
Moore, 37, was notified Nov. 7 that he would be serving as a district chief in the field rather than in the administrative chief post he had held since April 2011.
As a result, his base salary was reduced from $94,011 to $81,654.
When the City Charter was drafted in 1989, city administrators went to the police and firefighter unions and asked whether they wanted to be under civil service or have their own charter title written.
Police opted to be under the protection of the civil service process, while firefighters chose to be covered by the language in the charter's Article 11, which allows for trial proceedings.
The council's decision Thursday means Moore's only other recourse might be to file a lawsuit in court.
Project tabled: Councilors on Thursday tabled a plan to construct a 596-unit apartment complex in west Tulsa until the small area plan for the area is completed.
The vote was 6-3, with Councilors Jeannie Cue, David Patrick and Henderson voting against the motion.
The complex, called the Greens at Page Belcher, would be constructed on 38 acres near the northeast corner of Union Avenue and 71st Street.
The city's West Highlands/Tulsa Hills small area plan is scheduled to be completed in June. Small area plans are intended to address the specific needs of a particular area and cover items such as transportation and infrastructure.
Bynum and Ewing said the council was being asked to respect the planning process while also recognizing the needs created by the increased density in the city.
For them and four other councilors, tabling the development plan provided a way to respect the planning process while giving the developer a chance to address the concerns of about 40 neighborhood residents who came out in force to oppose the project.
Attorney Hugh Jarratt, representing Lindsey Management, said after the meeting that he did not know whether his company would bring the project back for consideration because its contract with the landowner expires before June.
The project lies in Cue's district, and she asked councilors to reject the proposal outright, pointing to the strong opposition expressed during the meeting and the ongoing planning process.
Nearly a dozen people spoke in opposition to the proposal, saying it would increase traffic and crime while disturbing the rural setting of the area.
Revenue up: Tulsa's sales-tax revenue check for December was 4.1 percent more than the same month last year, new reports showed Friday.
The city received $19,110,236 from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, compared to roughly $18.3 million in December 2011, city Finance Director Mike Kier said.
The city had budgeted an even $19 million for the month, so it was up half a percentage point from estimates.
For fiscal-year-to-date, Tulsa has brought in $113.3 million in sales-tax revenue, which is about $8.85 million more than the same period last year, he said.
The total is one-quarter of a percent above estimates.
The money was collected from Oct. 16 to Nov. 15, before the lucrative post-Thanksgiving buying frenzy leading up to Christmas had begun.
At 6 p.m. Tuesday, a public hearing is set to discuss how federal U.S. Housing and Urban Development funds should be allocated in Tulsa. The hearing will be in the City Council's Chambers at City Hall, 175 E. Second St.
The funds are spent to address economic development, homelessness, HIV/AIDS, owner-occupied housing, rental housing, public facilities and improvements, public services and other areas.
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