Tulsa Has New Vision for the New Year
By DEWEY F. BARTLETT, JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
The year 2010 will be marked as the beginning of a new vision for the City of Tulsa. What we started will create a compelling new vision for what Tulsa’s future will be which will both inspire and challenge Tulsans in 2011 and beyond.
The “seeds” of this new vision were planted in 2010 and will begin to bear results in 2011 and should give citizens a new sense of confidence in Tulsa’s future. Importantly many, if not all, of these are also supported by the City Council which should add to the promise of fulfillment. This past year will be remembered for:
This first of kind review of the entire operation of city government was completed and will begin to be implemented making city government more responsive, cost effective, and customer orientated. The challenges which government faces today must be met with a new design for managing change.
The first update of the city’s comprehensive plan in 30 years will begin implementation. Two main objectives in 2011 as first steps: hiring a Director of Planning for the first time in years to oversee that the strategies and recommendations are implemented in a timely, organized, and coordinated manner and updating the zoning code so that those recommended uses of land have a sense of balance, flexibility, livability, and opportunity.
The City of Tulsa’s first Energy Conservation Master Plan will be completed by summer. Spanning across dozens of facilities and public improvements, the plan will identify where energy usage and costs can be conserved, where alternative types of energy can be used, and where energy capital improvements can provide the sustainability of public assets.
For the first time since October of 2007, serious talk and movement on development of areas along the Arkansas River resumed. Early in 2011 an will be issued for approximately 100 acres on the west bank of the river. Also in 2011 will be the start of the dialogue with the government leaders of the other river cities on the creation of a river development authority.
The push to collect the sales and use taxes destined for the City of Tulsa will continue. With both a pending lawsuit to allow local collection as well as pending legislation to return the option to cities, this is the life blood for the city. Early in 2011 new private auditors approved by the tax commission will be allowed to audit local business for payment compliance.
MUNICIPAL FINANCE FORCE
With the Municipal Finance Task force issuing its 13 recommendations in December, we start the next legislative session in February having already introduced several bills that provide the city with fiscal options, flexibility, and opportunities to stabilize our fiscal house.
For the first time, a comprehensive citywide citizen’s survey was launched in December. Over 100 questions on all aspects of city life in Tulsa is being asked of nearly 2,000 households. When the results are received in early 2011, a new plan of action, transparency, and accountability will be prepared.
SMALL BUSINESS OMBUDSMAN
No business is more important to the economic health of Tulsa than the small business. Yet the size of government and its abundance of red tape can strangle the small business owner to death. To provide the responsive guidance which a small business needs getting through the maze of government regulations, a new, first of a kind Small Business Ombudsman position was created in 2010.
/ COUNTY COLLABORATION
It matters little to the citizens which government provides which services. All of the services are paid for by the same taxpayer. Up until recently, there was no recognizable relationship with the elected leaders of Tulsa County. That changed in 2010 with the issuance of an executive order creating the Collaborative Government Advisory Committee. In 2011, the leaders which will compose this committee will begin the exploration of partnerships and joint ventures.
Late in 2010 the City of Tulsa applied for one of the 50 Smarter Cities Challenge grants. Tulsa’s request is for support to determine the competitive challenges Tulsa faces against its peer cities in the development of businesses and the creation of jobs. Tulsa should know in early 2011 if it is selected for one of these awards.
With new fiscal conservative policies in place, we were able to restore important core services that had been either reduced or eliminated even though our unemployment rate saw little improvement. This included: lights back on, public safety academies resumed, helicopters back up, furloughs ended, and fully funded emergency fund.
Each of these pieces of the new vision were started in 2010 even as we battled the worse recession in our city’s history. As dark as those days appeared, a vision for a better Tulsa is at hand.