|Updated: 6/14 3:38 pm
||Published: 6/14 2:48 pm
The Tulsa City Council approved a new711 million total budget on Thursday night that will help put 61 more police officers on the streets.
“The end result this year is a big step toward improving public safety at a time when Tulsans too often don't feel safe,” Councilor G.T. Bynum, who chaired the Council’s Budget Committee, said.
The added officers will come from two police academies, one in October and one in April, and from hiring 16 civilians to replace officers in desk work positions, freeing up the officers to return to the field.
Councilor Karen Gilbert worked with Councilor Bynum on the proposal to increase officers.
“Our police department is extremely understaffed and has been for several years. With low staffing levels, you’re not just putting the public in danger, but you’re also putting police officers in danger,” Gilbert said.
The budget amendment also provides $155,000 in funding for the Family Safety Center, which offers assistance and support for victims of domestic violence, and $50,000 for a Crime Stoppers tip line contract.
Public transportation gets a boost with $200,000 in funding to support the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority’s initiative to reduce headways and increase bus routes.
Beautification was also a high priority. The Council restored right of way mowing to nine cycles, up from eight cycles, at a cost of $90,000. And $160,000 was approved for city cleanup crews.
The Council also provided funding to rehabilitate two community centers, Franklin Park and Springdale Park, at $124,000 each.
A one-percent pay increase for non-sworn City employees was also approved.
"In a difficult budget year with plenty of external distractions, the City Council stayed focused on our most important responsibility: the best use of taxpayer dollars within the City budget,” Bynum said.
AS FOX23 reported on Thursday one of Mayor Bartlett’s proposal was to increase parking meter rates to help pay for a police academy, that was not in the final budget.