After campaigning to restore relations with county officials, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum is doing just the opposite.
Instead of working out a reasonable deal over funding for the county jail, Bynum and his council cohorts decided to withdraw municipal prisoners and open up a new jail. Bynum did so without consulting the Tulsa County Sheriff and giving the county only 30 days notice.
Bynum’s scheme was to house city prisoners in the old jail but since it only holds 25, he had to negotiate a contract with Okmulgee County to handle the overflow.
And with a big smile, Bynum announced this arrangement would “save the city money.”
The City of Tulsa will have to pay for remodeling the old jail – a job that is guaranteed to cost more than projected. And the Tulsa Police Department will have to hire round-the-clock personnel to staff the jail. That includes the cost of a kitchen plus medical care and mental health screenings.
Tulsa is going to find out very quickly that sending prisoners to a county operation is much more efficient than running your own mini-jail.
And Bynum and the council are forcing Tulsa County to spend more money (about $300,000) to remodel a third floor holding space in the County Courthouse. The sheriff had been using space owned by the city to store inmates that were waiting for court appearances.
What Bynum and the city councilors don’t seem to understand is that all of the citizens of Tulsa live in Tulsa County. When the city pulls a bonehead stunt to punish the county, it ultimately affects all of the taxpayers in the city, too
Stay tuned. It will get worse.