City of Tulsa

Matt Trotter / KWGS

City councilors adopted Tulsa’s budget for fiscal year 2021, which spends 3% less overall but boosts police spending by about 0.7%.

The budget is down amid projections of lower sales tax revenue because of the recession. The city has implemented several cuts, including half-day furloughs of employees each Friday.

The $828.5 million total budget also raises sewer and stormwater rates.

Odell Architecture

Updated June 18, 6:55 p.m. to include a statement from the mayor's office.  

The authority that oversees City of Tulsa–owned venues does not believe it can move Saturday’s Trump campaign rally.

Despite concerns about filling a 19,000-seat arena in the middle of a spike in COVID-19 cases, members of the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority concluded they don’t have power to cancel contracts entered into by ASM Global, the company that manages the BOK Center.

In a rare occurrence, dozens of Tulsa residents weighed in on the proposed city budget in a public hearing, most of them asking officials to defund the police department.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The field is set for Tulsa’s municipal elections in August.

Seven men are running for mayor against incumbent G.T. Bynum, including three black men with ties to Greenwood: community organizer Greg Robinson, Black Wall Street Gallery owner Ricco Wright and restaurant owner Ty Walker.

The current pandemic has brought keen economic hardship, of course, to a vast number of individials and families within various levels of American society. Given that so many folks who rent a house or apartment in our community now require extra time to acquire their unemployment checks and/or federal benefits, the Tulsa City Council voted unanimously last night to ask Gov. Stitt for a statewide moratorium on evictions. In addition to this, Tulsa County has historically had one of the highest rates of eviction in the country.

City of Tulsa

A deal proposed in 2015 for the City of Tulsa to sell Mitchell Park to Bishop Kelley High School may be back on.

The holdup was a National Park Service grant for between $13,000 and $18,000 the city received for improvements there.

"And those small amount of funds essentially required that, that park now cannot be sold directly but can be converted into another park," said City of Tulsa Real Estate Manager Michelle Lester.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and community leaders who organized Saturday’s "We Can’t Breathe" protest announced Monday the city will not renew its contract with the reality show "Live PD."

Community groups have decried the show for exploiting people in poverty and people of color. Bynum has resisted calls to end the city’s relationship with the show, saying he sees it as a way to show Tulsans what their police officers do on the job.

Tulsa Flag

Tulsa and the rest of Oklahoma officially moved to phase three of reopening Monday, lifting several more restrictions implemented to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 

In Tulsa, events can resume without size limits, outdoor park amenities and dog parks can be used again, community centers are reopening, and businesses that were operating by appointment only can start taking walk-in customers. 

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said people must remain vigilant in taking safety precautions like wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and frequently washing their hands.

Tulsa officials on Friday said the city and county are ready to follow the state into phase three of a reopening plan on Monday.

As of Friday, Tulsa County had 983 total confirmed cases of COVID-19, 158 active cases and 51 deaths. Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Doctor Bruce Dart said the county's case trend is almost flat and hospitalization rates are trending up but remain manageable.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said he does not have the same concerns proceeding to phase three as he did going into phase one, however, because the main benchmark is hospital capacity.

City of Tulsa

After two years at No. 60, Tulsa climbed five places in the Trust for Public Land’s annual ParkScore rankings.

The jump to No. 55 came down to an $18 increase in per capita spending on parks, but that’s largely from what the George Kaiser Family Foundation has spent on and around the Gathering Place.

Tulsa's John Hope Franklin Center will soon present the 11th Annual Reconciliation in America National Symposium, from May 27th through June 2nd. Given the pandemic, the symposium this year will happen online, and it will carry the theme of "Reconciliation and Technology: Neutral Resources for Social Good." This theme, per the John Hope Franklin Center website, "unites us as change agents, researchers of effective practices, and peacemakers in the intentional journey of reconciliation.

Tulsa is going wild for Tesla.

The city is reportedly competing with Austin, Texas, for the company’s new factory and 10,000 jobs, and its thirst was on full display Wednesday, as stadium video screens lit up with the Tesla logo, Tesla cars paraded through the city and officials unveiled what many had already seen: the 75-foot-tall Golden Driller with a red Tesla "T" emblazoned on his chest, a Tesla belt buckle and a mask of Elon Musk’s face plastered over his typically undefined features.

Tulsa's tourist industry is hoping a major event recently booked for Expo Square in July could be the start of the economy's revivial. 

The week-long National Junior Angus Show will bring thousands of visitors and $2.5 million to Tulsa, according to Ray Hoyt, president of Tulsa Regional Tourism.

"We're excited about the whole opportunity to kickstart the tourism aspect of what's going on in the community," Hoyt said.

Most City of Tulsa residents can expect to see their utility bills go up $1.03 if the city council approves a proposed 3% sewer rate increase.

No water rate increase is being proposed for next fiscal year — or for most of the next five years.

"For the next five years, it’s 0% for the next two, a 1% rate increase in fiscal year 23 and then back to 0% for the following two years," said Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority Operations Administrative Manager Eric Lee.

Tesla

DETROIT (AP) — Tesla has picked Austin, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, as finalists for its new U.S. assembly plant, a person briefed on the matter said Friday.

The person says company officials visited Tulsa in the past week and were shown two sites.

It wasn’t clear if there were any other finalists in the mix. The person, who didn’t want to be identified because the site selection process is secret, said no final decision has been made.

The International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)

A major labor union has weighed in on the lease showdown between Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and the IC Bus manufacturing plant.

In a statement from their president, Rory Gamble, the United Auto Workers said that the 1,600 workers at the plant "deserve better than the risky behavior that what [sic] we're currently seeing," and accused Bynum of using the workers as "bargaining chips."

Instagram / @CityOfTulsa

Despite the City of Tulsa's financial belt-tightening, the Parks and Recreation department doesn't foresee major interruptions in maintenance and capital projects.

At a virtual meeting of the Tulsa Parks & Recreation Board on Tuesday, Anna America, the city's parks director, said parkgoers don't have to worry.

Google Earth

With the City of Tulsa and IC Bus of Oklahoma sitting down for negotiations over a contested lease on Thursday, the public relations battle continued to rage via the press.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mayor G.T. Bynum forcefully denied allegations made in a press release issued and a P.R. campaign launched by the Illinois-based Navistar, IC Bus's parent company, that Bynum wanted to evict the company from the city-owned facility near the airport.

Google Maps Street View

In a late Tuesday statement, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said IC Bus, a major manufacturer in Tulsa, and its parent company, Navistar, are mounting a "false campaign" in accusing City Hall of threatening their facility with eviction.

Under the name "Save Tulsa Jobs," Navistar released a statement saying that "the City of Tulsa is threatening to evict IC Bus from its school bus manufacturing facility at the Tulsa International Airport, a move which would cost the city and the state of Oklahoma 1,600 jobs."

Instagram / @tulsazoo

Moving forward, Tulsa Zoo President and CEO Terrie Correll and other zoo professionals may be wise to be careful what they wish for.

"Every zookeeper's dream is to have the zoo to yourself," Correll said Tuesday during a virtual meeting of the City of Tulsa's Parks and Recreation Department, "and we've got it now."

Closed since mid-March due to restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the zoo has faced its share of difficulty , Correll said.

Tulsa City Hall

Furloughs affecting about 1,000 municipal employees, meant to help mitigate lost revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic, will begin in Tulsa this Friday.

Michelle Brooks, communications director for the City of Tulsa, said the average Tulsan won't see much in the way of reduction in services, and no reduction at all in emergency services. 

"This does not impact public safety: our police, fire, 911, our utilities services," Brooks said. "Citizens are not going to see an impact there."

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said Wednesday while the city will follow the state’s business reopening plan starting Friday, things are not going right back to normal.

Bynum said businesses that plan to reopen should get well-acquainted with state guidelines for their specific industries. Restaurant dining rooms, gyms and places of worship are among the establishments that can reopen Friday under certain restrictions.

Bynum said the guidelines are not merely helpful tips and will be enforced by the Tulsa Police Department.

Chris Polansky / KWGS

His hand seemingly forced by Governor Kevin Stitt's easing of restrictions on business closures implemented to slow the spread of COVID-19, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced reluctantly on Friday that Tulsa's "Safer At Home" order will expire on Thursday, April 30th. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum proposed Wednesday evening an $828.5 million total city budget intended to keep city services at current levels through the next fiscal year.

That figure includes all city funds, as well as operations and capital funding from Improve Our Tulsa and Vision Tulsa. The total fiscal year 2021 budget is down $26.1 million from FY2020.

Nearly two dozen business, nonprofit and health leaders will help plan the reopening of Tulsa’s economy after the COVID-19 threat begins to decline.

The Mayor's Economic Recovery Advisory Committee in partnership with the Tulsa Regional Chamber will look at steps other cities and states are taking to come up with a phased approach for Tulsa.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Updated April 17, 2:10 p.m.

The City of Tulsa will furlough around 1,000 employees for half-days every Friday beginning May 3 through the end of 2020.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said high unemployment and low oil prices are expected to cause a dramatic drop in sales tax collections, the city's only source of operating funds.

Much like during last year's spring storms when the city decided to warn people to brace for a flood event on par with 1986, officials decided it would be best to prepare now for the worst-case scenario.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma is expecting a budget shortfall this year, and now so is the City of Tulsa.

Finance Director James Wagner said the latest sales and use tax distribution from the state is slightly above budget estimates but covers the period before the city’s safer at home order to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect.

On this edition of ST, we learn about Tulsa Remote, the talent-recruitment initiative of George Kaiser Family Foundation that's now in its second year -- and that has received, since it began, more than 10,000 applications from all over the globe (and all over the nation). Our guest is Tulsa native Aaron Bolzle, the executive director of this increasingly popular program.

With the 2020 presidential race now well underway, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa is seeking out women in northeastern Oklahoma who could be president. The League will honor 10 such women from our community -- all of them dedicated to leadership and community service, with nominations presently being taken -- at its upcoming Madam President event (happening on May 5; more info at this link).

Our guest is Susan Neal, Executive Director of Gilcrease Museum, which recently announced that its current facility will be not just refurbished or remodeled but, indeed, entirely rebuilt. The museum announced over the weekend that its current building will be demolished, and that a new structure will be erected in its place. As Neal expalins, Gilcrease has been added to -- and/or expanded upon -- several times over the years. The oldest parts of the museum date back to 1913; the newest building in the Gilcrease complex dates from the 1980s.

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