Bynum proposes city budget with big bump in police, fire funding
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum presented his proposed fiscal year 2023 municipal budget at a meeting of the Tulsa City Council on Wednesday, outlining his desire for big increases in spending on the Tulsa fire and police departments.
"The greatest operating expense for the City of Tulsa is public safety," Bynum, a Republican, said in his remarks.
"The greatest public safety risk we face in Tulsa is staffing in the Tulsa Police Department," the mayor said. "While I hate to cite this statistic in a presentation that otherwise features much to be excited about, the reality is that if current trends continue over the remaining two-thirds of the calendar year, we are on pace to break Tulsa’s all-time homicide record."
"Violent crime - with homicides as the most extreme cases - must be proactively addressed by us to the greatest extent possible," Bynum said.
The proposed budget would increase Tulsa Police Department funding by $21.6 million, a 17.6% increase. Bynum said that would support a "real-time information center" of monitored cameras around the city, the onboarding of 90 new officers, and increased police recruitment initiatives.
Bynum also said the Tulsa Fire Department would see a 12.7% budget increase of $10.3 million, to support 30 new cadets and 20 new paramedics.
Overall, the $944.9 million budget is an 18.2% increase from the prior fiscal year's.
"This year, we are in the midst of once-in-a-generation inflation, which has caused sales and use tax revenues to boom. But we have to be mindful that so have our costs - most importantly, maintaining the buying power of our team members at the City of Tulsa as they see inflation eat into their earnings," the mayor said.
The mayor also touted increased salaries and benefits for city employees, a minimum wage of $16 an hour for municipal workers, and a rainy day fund of $12 million — "six times what it held when I was sworn in as mayor in 2016."
The mayor's budget proposal is subject to approval by the city council. It is expected to be voted on in June.