Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel is urging support for an initiative by Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo to achieve a resolution to the jail fee issues between Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa.
“I view everything by what it is doing to the taxpayers of this county,” Yazel said. “It is unfair to ask the citizens of communities outside the City of Tulsa to subsidize City of Tulsa detainees, and that is what’s happening. This has been a festering issue for years, and it is obvious to any reasonable person that the City of Tulsa is not paying what it costs to house their prisoners. We have a new mayor who says he is committed to resolving this issue, but he appears to be using some of the same stalling tactics as his predecessor. I think it is laudable that Commissioner Smaligo is taking this initiative, and I support it.”
The Tulsa County Jail is funded by a county wide sales tax, fees paid by various governmental entities, subsidies from the County general fund, and other miscellaneous sources. As one of the eight members of the of the Tulsa County Budget Board, Yazel has watched as the jail, year after year, has requested millions of dollars from the County general fund in order to subsidize the shortfall created by the City of Tulsa and other entities not paying the amount necessary to support their detainees. Yazel agrees with Smaligo that the county cannot fall prey to the same tactics that have gotten nowhere over the past several years, and something different needs to be done.
“I am not trying to get between Commissioner Smaligo and the other commissioners,” Yazel said. “If one of the others comes up with something innovative to bring this issue to a conclusion, I will review it and consider supporting it. We have been on the brink of a resolution multiple times over the years, and instead of results we merely get more delays.”