Taylor Pleased With County Response

Mayor Kathy Taylor expressed encouragement at the progress made on her efforts at moving the city and county into a closer working relationship on key items.
“I think we have moved significantly closer to consensus on three of four key items,” said Mayor Taylor. “That’s success in my book. The dialogue that started because of the annexation issue has sparked action from the commissioners. The result will be progress on critical items facing Tulsa taxpayers.”
On Thursday, Taylor issued a letter to the three Tulsa County Commissioners outlining a compromise on the fairgrounds annexation issue.
In the letter, she offered to ask the City Council to table action on the issue for a 12 month period. The request for delay was in response to county commissioner’s suggestion that further study by both entities was needed. Taylor agreed that the time period would provide time for a thorough financial analysis to be conducted by a city county review committee empanelled jointly by the mayor and county commissioners. In addition, she reiterated her request for the county’s participation in a city county review committee to look for cost-saving efficiencies, the county’s financial support of the Tulsa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, the county’s partnership in hiring a special events auditor to ensure sales taxes are being legally remitted, and the county’s support to allow voters the option to create local fire districts. In response to the Mayor’s letter, Commissioners have indicated support for all but the final item.
“My requests to them have basic purposes: to find savings for taxpayers and to ensure the city and county are working together for the citizens who elected us,” said Taylor. “That’s our job- and our responsibility as elected officials. Now it is time to get to work.”
Taylor has proposed the county name appointments this week to her proposed review committee that is set to begin work in mid-March. The committee is comprised of six appointments from the city and proposes six appointments from the county. Howard Barnett, former chief of staff to Governor Frank Keating will chair the panel.
The Mayor is also charging the county to work with her on a special projects auditor. “With the County’s help, we can begin work immediately.” Taylor said. “My hope is to have the auditor in place by the end of the month and begin working with the Oklahoma Tax Commission to make sure current law is being enforced. Councilor Roscoe Turner brought this issue to the forefront months ago and it is time it is addressed.”
Taylor met this week with Tulsa Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Suzann Stewart about the possibility of Tulsa County’s participation in marketing efforts. She has charged the CVB to prepare a financial analysis of current marketing efforts to share with the County. Taylor said the CVB contribution to marketing the fairgrounds has been discussed for years. “With the implementation of cooperative branding efforts and the Oklahoma Centennial celebrations taking place this year, it is only appropriate that the county join in the marketing efforts already funded by the city.”
The issue of local fire districts remains in question with the county, but Taylor is not deterred in her efforts. “This issue is still on the table as far as I am concerned,” said Taylor. “It seems I just have more convincing to do with the commissioners.”
The creation of local fire districts for municipalities is currently under discussion in the state legislature. If approved, voters in cities and towns would be given the option of creating districts for fire protection and also have the option of levying property taxes to fund them. Voters in rural areas already have that option. The issue is currently a shared legislative agenda item for the City of Tulsa, the Tulsa Metro Chamber and INCOG which represents Tulsa County and several municipalities surrounding Tulsa.
The mayor also expressed eagerness to continue discussions with county commissioners on how to best move forward on the issue of river development.
“I have to say I am very pleased with the commissioner’s willingness to move toward consensus on these items,” Taylor said. “The dialogue has been healthy and I look forward to working with them over the next few weeks to move forward. It is high time to get down to work. We have already wasted too much time.”

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