By DEWEY F. BARTLETT, JR.
Mayor of Tulsa
The clearest expressions of any Mayor’s vision and goals for our fine city are contained in the operation and capital budgets submitted each year. Implicit in the budgets I submitted to the City Council are my commitments to protect our assets, to be a diligent trustee of all public funds, and to respond to those issues and concerns which will strengthen our economic future and quality of life.
My vision for Tulsa is clear: “We are one Tulsa. We must be a seamless city that is not seen as divided by districts or conditions. The common features of safety, cleanliness, capital improvements and business growth should be seen in all parts of Tulsa and no place should feel left behind or left out of our forward progress.”
The proposed budgets are based upon our reliance on the findings and recommendations from the recent citywide citizen’s survey which showed that a majority of citizens believe we are headed in the right direction. The proposed budgets are investments in Tulsa that keep us moving in the right direction. These budgets are the citizen’s budgets. They respond to what you, the citizens, stated were your community priorities and values and it is this grassroots approach to our spending priorities which I believe will make them likely to succeed.
The three main priority areas voiced from the citizens, which will keep us moving in the right direction, are: improve the quality of life, improve public safety, and continue important capital improvements.
With quality of life, Tulsan’s have a lot of pride living in Tulsa. They expect the appearance to be the best it can be. We are addressing that by increasing the funding dramatically in code enforcement, demolition of abandon property and drug houses, nuisance abatement, and graffiti removal. We will open five pools without private donations, add four new splash pads and water parks, and double the amount spent on park improvements to over $3 million. We will also increase, by almost double, the number of times we will be mowing the rights of ways and medians and increase the mowing cycles for our parks and sports fields. For the Gilcrease Museum, we have allotted over $2 million for the maintenance and protection of this most valuable asset.
Public safety is our core service. We will have both a new police and fire academy to keep our public safety force steady. We will add new police and fire vehicles and provided our police officers with state of the art equipment for their protection.
The conditions of our streets are always on peoples mind. Even as we continue to work through the next phase of the Fix Our Streets initiative with over $70 million on capital improvements, we will spend an additional $3 million on street maintenance and pot hole repairs. We will also add a few snow plows and salt spreaders and we will increase our storage capacity to have additional salt on hand.
To help offset the rising cost of gasoline, utilities, and health insurance premiums, we will continue to keep our workforce smaller and maintain close to a 3 percent vacancy rate with positions.
The elimination decisions made in 2009, to discontinue public safety academies, elimination of graffiti removal and reducing mowing of public rights of way, shutting off highway lighting, grounding police helicopters and furloughing city employees, have all been reversed. These important public safety and quality of life services are all back.
All of this, and so much more, are being done without a tax increase.
Continuing to build and rebuild our city is important not only for our quality of life but to attract and expand economic development opportunities. I believe this budget, your budget, is continuing to move all of us in the right direction for a better future.
The recent results from our citizen survey tells us that Tulsan’s have lot of pride in the appearance of our city. Maintaining our beauty is one of the reasons so many love living here. Often times efforts to beautify our city comes from volunteers who want to invest their time and talents in their home town.
Tulsa Master Gardeners is perfect example of a volunteer organization working toward the beautification of our City. Their new Tulsa Blooms program has targeted Brookside as the first area to help businesses along Peoria to make their businesses more attractive with large pots of flowers.
Their annual Showcase Garden Tour, this year titled Real Gardens for Real People, is scheduled for June 11 and 12. Five homes, plus the gardens at the Extension Center will be on the tour. The Garden Tour always provides many ideas for handling problem areas, has examples of raised vegetable gardens and examples of landscaping for very small up to very large yards. Tickets are available at the extension center at the Extension Office at Gate Six of the Fairgrounds (on 15th Street) or from a Master Gardener. Tickets are $5 if purchased in advance and $10 the day of the event. Call 918-746-3700 for more information.
Please join me in thanking the Master Gardeners for all they do by participating in this wonderful event.