As part of his effort to convince members of the City Council to adopt a package of proposed revenue-enhancement measures, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. released a series of figures last week that outlines how much money it would take to restore some city services that have fallen victim to budget cuts.
Bartlett held a press conference May 20 at City Hall to present the specifics on the revenue-enhancement measures, which were outlined in a May 13 Urban Tulsa story. He claimed the enhancements would generate more than $9 million in new revenue at a time when the city has had to reduce or eliminate many services.
Adoption of the proposals for one year, according to the mayor, would allow the city to restore full highway lighting at a cost of $525,000, replenish its salt supply and restore overtime labor during winter storms at a cost of $735,000, restore the operation of two public safety helicopters at a cost of $242,000 and restore a 5.2 percent wage reduction for firefighters at a cost of $2.4 million.
The proposals also would restore $1 million for pot hole repairs, restore $100,500 for graffiti abatement crews, restore $838,000 for six mowing cycles and two herbicide treatments, roll back four furlough days for non-sworn city employees at a cost of $772,000, restore $210,000 in funding for new technology for public safety employees and provide $1.6 million funding to reopen five Tulsa Park Department pools, two community centers and restore camp programs.
That comes to a total of approximately $8.6 million, according to the mayor's staff.
The revenue enhancement proposals include such ideas as privatizing the city's parking meter enforcement system, and raising hourly fees and fines for violations; increasing the renewal fees for security-alarm system certificates; creating an optional $5-a-month utility fee for Fire Department response services for structural fires, medical first response and vehicular accidents; and billing policy-holders' insurance companies for those calls if a citizen opts out of paying the optional utility fee. They would create an estimated $9,098,000, according to the mayor's staff.
The mayor presented a proposed general fund budget of $230 million to the council in late April that did not include the restoration of any of the aforementioned services. Councilors have until June 30 to approve the budget before the start of the new fiscal year on July 1.
Moving Forward, Not Back
The organizer of a proposed museum dedicated to putting the spotlight on Tulsa's rich Art Deco heritage is launching a new e-mail newsletter to promote the facility and will be conducting tours of downtown landmarks beginning this month.
Local artist William Franklin, who originated the idea of the planned Decopolis museum, said the first edition of the new e-mail newsletter -- dubbed The Decopolis Star Dispatch -- was due for release June 1. The newsletter will feature an education section, a comedy section and information on the movement to open the museum. Franklin also plans to lead tours of notable downtown Art Deco structures on the second Saturday of each month.
The museum already has a board of directors and a Web site (decopolis.net) and has applied for nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service. The museum's first fundraiser, Deco Ball 2010, was held March 28 at the historic ONG Building.
"It went really well," he said. "We were surprised. Everybody was happy and thrilled."
Franklin declined to say how much money was raised, but he indicated he was pleased with the results, considering it was the museum's first attempt at staging such an event.
"Of course, we'd hoped for more, but most organizations that have just come up with an idea like this wouldn't even have tried to have an event that soon," he said.
Franklin already is planning another event, a Decopolis picnic that will serve primarily to increase awareness about the museum. No date or location has been announced yet, but Franklin said it was likely the event would take place in late summer or early fall. He described it as a bring-your-own-basket-and-blanket event that would feature lawn tennis, lawn bowling and music. Those in attendance will be encouraged to dress in period costume, he said.
He also intends to roll out a line of Decopolis merchandise this summer, including such items as pins, buttons and T-shirts.
Franklin said with work on the newsletter and second Saturday tour projects having been completed, the board will return its attention to finding a temporary home for the museum. He hopes to have a small, storefront location for the museum open by the end of the year that would serve as the organization's headquarters and feature Art Deco displays. A larger, more permanent space eventually would serve as the home of the museum.
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