From Tulsa County By COMMISSIONER RON PETERS
Tulsa County Commissioner
Assessing this past year requires an evaluation of the services provided to Tulsa County citizens by the county government which serves them. I am pleased to report that there were a number of significant accomplishments.
Public Health and Safety
One of the County’s top priorities should always be public safety. In this regard, we strive to meet or exceed our citizen’s expectations regarding public safety. In 2017 we:
Were awarded a $295,000 grant from the Department of Justice to purchase 216 body worn cameras for the Sheriff’s Office. The use of these cameras should reinforce law enforcement accountability, while improving agency transparency;
Opened the new state of the art mental health pods at the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center, the first of its kind in a county jail in Oklahoma and one of only a handful of county jails in America. The prevalence of mental illness in county jails is now three-to-six times higher than in the general population. Providing appropriate care means shorter jail stays and when released, a lower likelihood that they will become repeat offenders;
Broke ground for a new Family Justice Center that will provide children and families with family support services. The best public safety investment is in prevention. This new facility will increase the County’s ability to ensure this investment in prevention is optimized.
Along with public safety, improving the public health of our citizens is also a priority. For the first time in many years, money was appropriated to address the removal of abandoned and dilapidated structures throughout Tulsa County. These structures not only pose a public health hazard; they are often used for illegal activities as well.
Transparency in Government
Elected officials should always put an extremely high importance on providing the most open and transparent government possible. In that regard, we launched the OpenGov platform on the Tulsa County website so citizens can see all of the financial transactions of the county and where and how their tax dollars are spent. To access this site simply go to www.tulsacounty.org.
Preparing for the Future
With the widespread support of citizens across the county, the Vision Tulsa initiative passed, replacing the expiring Vision 2025 effort and will allow us to continue to build and maintain important county infrastructure projects without a tax increase. This package includes $30 million dollars of improvements at Expo Square, $53 million dollars to maintain over 700 miles of county roads and 200 county bridges, $14 million dollars to preserve and upgrade our great county park system, and $13 million dollars to improve county buildings, parking lots, and the courthouse.
For years now, there has been an exchange of ideas on how to make citizens’ access and use of county services more customer friendly. During those discussions, it was obvious that additional space and more accessible parking was essential to accommodate the thousands of citizens which pass through the courthouse doors every year. In December 2017 we purchased a building, directly across the street from the Courthouse that will address both of those needs.
After updates are made to the building, the administrative functions of county government will be moved into this building. This will allow the judicial side of county government the additional space they need in the current courthouse complex. The new building will also make available more convenient parking for citizens who have county business with the treasurer, county clerk, assessor and county commissioners.
Partnering with the City of Tulsa
In 2017, the City and County agreed that it would be in the taxpayer’s interest to look at opportunities where the delivery of services can be enhanced. This examination would include areas where there may be duplication of services, opportunities to develop partnerships, and collaborating together in the best interest of the citizens. This effort will begin with a newly formed city/county Parks Commission that will be looking for ways to improve and sustain our great park systems.