TULSA - Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett hopes the City Council will allow the public to vote on a plan that would dedicate some sales tax money specifically to public safety, something the city has never done.
Specifically, the mayor proposes repurposing a .167-cent sales tax, currently set to expire next year, removing it from the general fund and dedicating it to funding additional police officers, firefighters, and street maintenance crews.
The mayor tells KRMG that portion of our current tax raises about $12 million annually.
It was originally part of a county tax, called "Four to Fix," which funded improvements to a number of facilities, including Expo Square.
When that tax expired, the city began collecting it for the general fund.
Mayor Bartlett says extending it again and dedicating it to public safety would mean 70 additional police officers, 45 more firefighters, and three crews -- roughly 15 people -- dedicated to street maintanance.
That's over and above the additional positions funded by the amended budget passed last week by the city council.
Police Chief Chuck Jordan, Fire Chief Ray Driskell, and Director of Streets and Stormwater Dan Crossland joined the mayor Monday morning to urge the City Council to put the plan to a vote of the people.
The mayor says he hopes it will appear on the ballot in November, during the general election.
Tulsa has never dedicated tax money specifically to public safety.
Oklahoma City does, and has had success keeping its police and fire departments well-staffed.
Tulsa, on the other hand, has struggled in recent years due to flagging sales tax revenues.