Tulsa Mayor to Recall Police Officers
TULSA, Okla. – Mayor Dewey Bartlett announced at the June 15 City Council Urban & Economic Development Committee meeting that he will recall police officers who were laid off during the current fiscal year, pending the Council approval of the proposed budget for FY 2011 and the Fraternal Order of Police approval of the police contract for next year.
Focusing on public safety, Mayor Bartlett also asked City Councilors to work with him to approve new revenue measures that would restore the 5.2% wage reduction Tulsa firefighters took as part of budget reductions during this year. Mayor Bartlett said the City agreed that firefighter salaries be restored in the event that laid off police officers were hired back. Firefighters voted in February to reduce their salaries in lieu of layoffs.
“The firefighters stepped up in a time of need, taking salary reductions rather than layoffs to maintain as much of their workforce as possible. The Fire Department also has experienced attrition through retirements this year and has reorganized to reduce upper management positions. We have a moral and ethical obligation to restore their salaries when we are able to restore the police department manpower,” Bartlett told councilors, “We all should commit to the firefighters that we also will restore their salaries if we return the police force to authorized strength we had prior to the reductions.”
The police officer recall is possible due to retirements during the current fiscal year and officers are anticipated to return by mid-July after the necessary administrative work and recall notices are given. Interim Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the recall is possible due to retirements – 62 retirements this year, including 32 announced in May – and other efficiency measures taken including significant reductions in overtime.
In addition, 35 police officers rehired following layoffs in February are currently funded by one-year Justice Assistance Grant, while 18 who were laid off in November were called back using a three-year Community Oriented Policing federal grants. Jordan said the City will have to support the 53 officers through the general fund when the grants expire.
Mayor Bartlett’s proposed revenue enhancements could generate enough revenue to add to the police force, including callbacks and replacing grant funds, restore all firefighter salaries and rollback a portion of the eight furlough days taken by non-sworn employees.
Of the revenue enhancements, a monthly fire utility fee charged to single family household utility customers in the city could generate the $2.4 million needed to restore firefighter salaries, plus restore other public safety services and public funding for five pools (opened with donations this summer) and reopen community centers.
Other proposed revenue enhancements include contracting parking meter operations and increasing rates and fines and increasing renewal fees for security alarm certificates. In addition to firefighter salaries and rescission of furlough days, the proposed enhancements would help supplement the general fund to potentially fund a police academy, one police helicopter, highway lighting, graffiti removal, mowing, salt supply, and Parks community centers and pools. (For the full revenue proposal presentation, see http://www.cityoftulsa.org/media/90299/01revenue%20enhancement%20full%20book.pdf