New city jail cost is more than projected

The city’s decision to reopen its own jail is already costing more than projected by officials.

The city is negotiating with a private contractor to spend $1,200,000.00 to $1,800,000.00 to run the new jail. That covers personnel costs, supplies, food, etc.

When Mayor G.T. Bynum said the city would stop using the county jail for municipal prisoners in August, he said his decision was based at least partially on a prediction that it would cost $1.2 million a year to run and they city would save money.

But the city has less than $700,000.00 in its approved budget to pay Tulsa County to house municipal inmates. The city had been paying around $800,000.00 a year for that service and the county wanted an increase to as much as $1.47 million.

County Commissioner John Smaligo wanted the city to pay up to $4 million as a fair share of the cost of the jail.

Bynum, who ran on a platform of fostering better relations between the city and county, announced the return to a city jail (or holding facility) without notifying county officials. Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said he was caught off guard by the announcement.

The new city jail will not have round-the-clock medical care for prisoners but will rely on EMSA and the Tulsa Fire Department to augment off-hours medical care.

The new jail will have five beds for women and 27 beds for men and holding cells for prisoners who are waiting to be released on bond. It is in the Police-Courts Building at 600 Civic Center.

Lawsuit on City Charter change

A Tulsa man has filed a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa alleging that a charter change approved by voters Nov. 7 is illegal because it violates the City Charter.

James D. Sicking, Jr., filed the civil suit concerning  the new charter amendment that allows city firefighters to actively campaign in city elections. The petition argues that a clause in the original City Charter (1908) states, “No chief, officer or member of the Tulsa Fire Department shall take part in any political campaign, and no member, officer or chief shall use his official position to further the interest of any political candidate, faction or party; no chief, officer or member shall contribute any service, money or thing of value to any political party, or person; violation of this section shall be sufficient cause for dismissal from the department.”

Bynum and the nine city councilors are all named defendants in the suit.

The suit claims the new charter amendment is in conflict with Article II, Section 14 of the City Charter because “it is not necessary to provide for representative, efficient and economical administration of city government.”

It also alleges that the new law violates a city ordinance that deals with a “single subject” rule on public ballots.  The suit claims, “The ballot proposition did not afford the voters an opportunity fairly to express their will as the ballot proposition was not sufficiently definite to apprise the voters with substantial accuracy as to what they were asked to approve.”