Tulsa City Councilors challenged plans for an east Tulsa fire station that is already scheduled for funding, arguing new solutions are needed for old problems.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett volunteered to lead a meeting between Tulsa Fire Department officials and other interested parties to look at whether an alternative to a new fire station could accomplish the same goals of providing better fire coverage to the area.
A City Council task force is reviewing Tulsa’s public safety agencies to determine the best use for a dedicated tax proposed by Bartlett that would follow the expiration of the countywide Vision 2025 sales tax in 2016.
Proposed at 0.2 percent, the tax would be one-third of the 0.6 percent Vision 2025 tax and would bring in about $14 million per year to city coffers.
Although Bartlett’s proposal aimed at increasing personnel, task-force members have said anything that improves public safety will be examined for funding.
Two weeks after Councilor G.T. Bynum asked Police Department officials to rethink their approach in a pitch for more officers, he took the same argument to the Fire Department on Thursday.
“I just think it is really important as we go through this task force that we try to continue these kind of conversations,” Bynum said. “The model needs to be changed. Just spending more on the same broken model won’t be a long-term fix.”
While plans for an east Tulsa fire station at 17120 E. 21st St. have been in place for years to fill a need for better response times in that area, Bynum asked Fire Chief Ray Driskell about other options.
Driskell didn’t have any — pointing out that 24-hour shifts, fire-engine needs in the winter and dispatch technology all basically rely on a station.
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