Councilors might raise fees

December 26, 2013

It looks like it’s going to cost more to live in Tulsa in 2014.

The Tulsa City Council is considering some more increases in fees and could more than triple the costs to taxpayers. A final decision could come on Jan. 9.

Councilors are looking at raising the hourly parking meter rates from 50 cents to $1. Officials claim more and more motorists are ignoring handicapped parking signs.

Another plan would raise the handicap parking violation from $150 to $500 – more than tripling that fine. State law limits that fine to $500.

Tulsa collects about a quarter of a million dollars from parking meters each year.

City officials want to raise the annual vending machine license from $35 to $56.25 (the state legal limit). Tulsa gets about $200,000 a year from those licenses. Officials complain that the license fee is far less than what the merchant would pay in regular sales tax.

Councilors might raise the annual home alarm certification from $30 to $45 – a 50 percent increase. If a Tulsa homeowner has an alarm that automatically calls 911 when triggered, they currently pay $30. If they had a false alarm the previous year, that rises to $60.

Tulsa has about 25,000 alarm systems and collects more than half a million dollars a year in fees. Officials claim it costs the city more than twice that because of false alarms, which account for about three-quarters of the calls.

Following the latest outbreaks of winter weather, Tulsa drivers are dodging a host of potholes on city streets.

According to the city website, pothole patching is only a “temporary repair.” It consists of filling depressions in the pavement with cold-lay asphalt, hot asphalt or a mixture of aggregate and binder materials which can be injected into the holes.

Officials claim that almost all potholes are patched within 72 hours of being reported to the Customer Care Center. Many are patched within 24 hours or on the same day the call is received.

Street Maintenance Crews made more than 70,000  temporary pothole repairs in fiscal 2010. Tens of thousands per year is not uncommon, especially when winters have a lot of freeze-and-thaw cycles and a lot of moisture. The cost of making temporary repairs typically runs from $3 to $9 per pothole.

Permanent repairs, which are more expensive and time consuming and require specialized equipment and skilled labor and other materials, usually involve removing sections of worn or badly damaged pavement “usually to the nearest pavement joint” and replacing it with new reinforced concrete or asphalt. Sometimes it also includes replacing base materials beneath the pavement. The average permanent repair involves an area of about 10×10 feet with about 6.19 cubic yards of paving material and the costs average about $1,500 per site, with some costing considerably more. Permanent repairs are usually made by contractors instead of by city employees.

Potholes on arterial streets are usually repaired within two days. On residential streets, repairs are usually made within five days of being reported. Potholes posing safety hazards or those that will likely damage vehicles get immediate repair if possible, including on weekends or after normal business hours.