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Mayor G.T. Bynum’s budget proposal to add 90 police officers, inebriation program

Honey Caranzo / Red Dirt Report
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum shared his first budget proposal Wednesday during Council.
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TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum shared his budget proposal for fiscal year 2017-2018 during the city council meeting April 26.

According to a press release, the total proposed budget is $824 million, which includes city funds, operations and capital funding from Improve Our Tulsa and Vision Tulsa.

During his presentation, Bynum pointed out that Tulsa’s Police Department is severely understaffed.

“Our employees were demoralized after years of feeling treated as an afterthought, and our citizens had grown comfortable with low expectations. But I believe you and I were elected to fix these things, to prove that Tulsa can do better,” he said.

Bynum explained that without Gov. Mary Fallin and Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger’s work to address tax payments on internet sales, he would not have the funds needed to address Tulsa’s goals.

He said the budget contains significant changes that will have a positive impact on Tulsa.

Under Bynum’s budget, every eligible City of Tulsa employee will receive a pay increase based on exemplary performance.

“We appreciate hard-working city employees who take care of business in the sun, in the rain, in the sleet and the snow,” he said.

Bynum’s financial team is projecting a 10 percent increase in health-care costs.

He pointed out that every dime would be covered by the City of Tulsa.

“The coverage of this increase reflects our commitment to the health of our team members here at the city, and it ensures they don’t take a step backward in overall compensation by being asked to pay for the increase themselves,” Bynum said.

Bynum explained it is only a short-term solution.

He stated that Council Chair Anna America and Chief of Staff Jack Blair will be leading a task force of City employees to develop alternate approaches to employee health plans.

He hopes to implement those changes in 2018.

Bynum said in 2016, Tulsa broke its record for the number of homicides.

“For a city that values the life and liberty of our neighbors, this trend cannot go unchecked,” he said.

In his budget, the TPD will have the largest one-year infusion of new police officers.

There will be three police academies with 30 recruits in each, totaling 90 new officers.

“This massive influx of new officers puts us on the path to being a safer city, where no beat goes unfilled, where no dark alley is safe for criminals, and where everyday citizens work more closely with officers they know to protect the people they love,” Bynum said.

He proposed a public inebriate alternative in Tulsa for publicly intoxicated citizens.

Bynum claims the approach is more cost effective than jail.

The Tulsa nonprofit community has offered to cover the capital expense for its construction as long as the city is willing to fund the operation.

Another project in Bynum’s budget proposal is the funding of the Better Way program in Tulsa.

The Better Way program was first implemented in Albuquerque, NM.

The program provides an alternative solution that would provide panhandlers the opportunity to work for a few hours a day.

Bynum’s budget proposal calls for the replacement of old fire trucks and hiring 35 new firefighters.

His budget proposal will also fund the first Sunday bus service for the Tulsa public transit system.

“This is probably the most impressive presentation I’ve seen. I’ve been through several of these,” Tulsa City Councilor David Patrick said.

Council will review Bynum’s budget and will approve it by June 22. Once approved, FY 2017-2018 will begin July 1.

For more information on Bynum’s budget proposal visit cityoftulsa.org.

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Honey Caranzo

Honey Caranzo graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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