City Beat
Your city, your news
July 27, 2021
Welcome to City Beat, a free weekly e-newsletter containing the latest news and information about the City of Bartlesville and related topics. Get yours delivered each week! http://bit.ly/2eaFETx
Inside Track
IAFF, City negotiations: What it means to you
City manager responds to misinformation, fire contract status
Contract negotiations between the City and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 200, the bargaining agent for Bartlesville firefighters, have ground to a halt — and Bartlesville voters could determine the outcome if a contract agreement isn't settled by the parties or in arbitration. City Manager Mike Bailey talks about what's in dispute and why it's important in this edition of Inside Track.
 
City Beat: Let's start at the beginning. What's going on?
 
Bailey: Essentially, the City is required to negotiate annual contracts with two groups of City employees who are represented by bargaining agents, commonly referred to as unions. These are police officers, who are represented by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 117, and firefighters, who are represented by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 200.
 
These meetings begin around March or April and our goal is to have contracts in place prior to the beginning of the new fiscal year, which starts July 1. This year, however, while the City has reached an agreement with the FOP, we have entered into the 2021-22 Fiscal Year without a contract with the IAFF, as the union and City negotiating groups have been unable to agree on terms of the contract.
 
What's in dispute
 
What is the disagreement, exactly?
 
The "City" has not received a response to our last offer, made June 25, so we are left to presume the IAFF's objection is over one or both of the only two significant changes proposed in the contract: pay increases, or a modification to the department's promotional process as it relates to administrative positions.
 
Taking those one at a time, what pay increases has the City offered?
 
The City is offering pay increases to all ranks ranging from 6.5 to 13.5 percent, with 11.5 percent proposed for the rank of fire fighter, which represents half the department. We've also offered an increase in longevity pay, which is money that City employees receive based on years of employment, and those increases range from 79 to 367 percent.
 
In all, these increases total $527,534. This is not a one-time bonus; it would be a permanent expenditure from the City's General Fund solely for Bartlesville firefighters.
 
Compensation clarification
 
In a recent media report, IAFF representatives said they only want what other City employees have received. Is the City's offer to firefighters less than what was given to other City employees?
 
No, it is not. Firstly, our goal was to bring all City employees up to the average of our peer cities, so all pay increases this year were predicated on that premise, including the increases offered to the firefighters.
 
Secondly, these increases are in addition to the pay increases we implemented last year with CARES Act funds to help bring our firefighters' pay in line with other department of similar size. Firefighters received the largest pay increases of all employee groups last year. Those increases, coupled with what the City is offering for the current fiscal year, will bring Bartlesville firefighters' pay to above the average pay of firefighters in peer cities. So it is disingenuous to imply that the offer for this year is less than what other employees received. That is not taking into account the substantial adjustments firefighters received last year.
 
In the 16 years I've been doing this, the City has never been able to offer such a generous compensation package to any of its employee groups as it has over the past two years, thanks largely to federal stimulus funding and some ongoing increases to operating funds. Frankly, it surprises me that the IAFF has not accepted or even offered a counter to our offer.
 
Promotional process: What's at stake
 
What does the City's proposed change in the department's promotional process entail?
 
Actually, the City has asked to change very little. Currently, the IAFF contract states that the City can only promote from the five most senior members who apply for a promotion. This applies to almost all positions and ranks. Some management level positions including deputy fire chief, fire marshal (or deputy fire marshal) and training officer are subject to this limitation. It's important to note that the deputy fire chief is not even covered by the contract. By law, this position is not a member of or represented by the IAFF.
 
The problem with the way the contract is currently written recently came to light with the retirement of the fire chief and the training officer, and with the addition of a fire marshal or deputy fire marshal position approved in this year's budget by the City Council. As a result of these changes, we have filled the positions of chief and training officer and will fill the positions of deputy fire chief and fire marshal (or deputy fire marshal), all within a very short period of time.
 
These positions are extremely important to the future of the department, as one might imagine, and we believe the current promotional rule is limiting in several areas.
 
For instance, if they wanted to, the most senior members of the department could apply for every one of these management-level promotions, whether they are truly interested in the positions or not, and effectively block a more qualified, less senior candidate from being tested, and thereby, promoted.
 
How would this occur?
 
An example is the recent promotion of the training officer's position. We were only allowed to test the five most senior applicants — and four of them failed the test, so only one person was eligible for promotion in that case. We are fortunate that the one person who passed the test was an excellent candidate, but this made it very clear that this policy has to be changed.
 
There is no other department in the City that permits employees of a department to effectively choose their managers. That is the role of the department’s administration. And we believe the fire chief should have more of a say in who is promoted to the No. 2 spot of deputy chief, in addition to other managerial positions.
 
Additionally, we believe this is better for the firefighters themselves, as it opens the possibility of promotion to more people. Firefighters who are interested in promotion would no longer have to wait years and years to be eligible for promotion, and that would allow us not only to make the promotional process more competitive to ensure we're getting the very best person for the job, but it would also keep us from losing good firefighters to other, more competitive departments.
 
We discussed how the City’s offer would cause our firefighters’ pay to be above the average of our peer cities. How does our promotional system compare to those cities?
 
Only one of our peer cities limits who may be tested for a promotion based on seniority. All of our other peers have moved to a promotional system focused on competence, not seniority. These cities allow all eligible employees to test for promotions. Promotional systems like our current one are increasingly rare in effective, results-driven city organizations.
 
Next step
 
What is the next step in this process?
 
In an effort to expedite the process and resolve these issues, the City has requested the matter be heard by an arbitrator.
 
What does that mean?
 
Arbitration is an adversarial procedure resembling a legal hearing in which both sides present their case to an arbitrator, who is appointed by both sides. The arbitrator will render a finding in favor of either the City's or the union's "last, best offer." If the ruling is in favor of the union, the City has the option of asking Bartlesville voters to decide the final outcome.
 
When will an arbitrator hear the case?
 
The City and the IAFF have selected arbitrators for the matter — there are actually three, one selected by the City, one selected by the IAFF and a third selected by both parties. We are awaiting potential dates for the case to be heard.
 
If the City ultimately elects to ask voters to decide the issue, when would an election be held?
 
In that case we would ask the Washington County Election Board to give us potential dates for a special election and then present those dates to the City Council. The council would vote on whether or not to officially request an election, at which point voters would decide on either the City's or the union's "last, best offer."
 
Still hope
 
Is an election in this matter inevitable?
 
No, not at all. We are still hopeful that we will reach an agreement with the union and be able to execute an agreed upon contract for the current fiscal year. We have been and certainly remain open to further negotiations with the IAFF.
 
We simply want the public — as well as the employees of the city— to know what these issues are, as it could be incumbent upon them to decide the outcome.
In the Spotlight
'Guardian servants' make giving a top priority
Focus on community outreach helps citizens, BPD, chief says
Bartlesville Police Department officers have been "caught in the act" numerous times lately — their faces splashed across social media, City Beat, and the six o'clock news — not for wrongdoing, but rather for performing random acts of kindness.

BPD has drawn attention lately with reports of officers who have gone out of their way to help people, including Officer Sierra Compton, who was recently elevated to local fame after a Facebook post showed her mowing the lawn for an elderly man. Compton took over the domestic duty after she saw the Bartlesville resident attempting to mow with one hand while operating his walker with the other.

"Bartlesville police officers exemplify what law enforcement should be doing in every community," said Police Chief Tracy Roles. "They are not only good officers but some of the very best people I have had the pleasure of knowing. I am proud of the work the work they do, and that includes the efforts they make in building relationships with the people in our community."

Community policing, or the practice of law enforcement using relationship-building with the public to help garner trust within the community, isn't exactly a new idea. The strategy, if not the term, has been around for a couple of centuries and was especially useful prior to the invention of modern transportation and technology, when cooperation between the two was a key component in solving crimes.
It's a concept Roles brought to the department when he took over as chief of the department in 2018. Under his leadership, the department has held numerous town hall and other community meetings, collaborated with local non-profits and other agencies on community outreach projects, helped promote diversity and inclusion, and encouraged one-on-one and small-group engagement between officers and citizens.

"I have always believed officers should have strong and positive involvement within the community they serve," Roles said. "By doing this we earn the trust of our citizens. For a police agency to be successful in its mission, the agency must have the trust of those it serves. The trust that is earned will lead to legitimacy within the agency."

And that trust-earning starts at the top, Roles says.

"Leaders must be willing to 'walk the talk.' If leadership is not willing to be involved, then it would be hypocritical for us to expect anything more from our officers," he said. "We have gotten to where we are today by communicating our desire for everyone to engage in the community, with the department's leadership leading the way. Our staff knows this is important and so many have been willing to get on board due to their desire to be more involved."

Role's philosophy is simple: "Treating everyone with unconditional respect is the driving philosophy," he said.

"I feel it's important for law enforcement to do a better job of connecting with the community in as many positive ways as possible. We have to do a better job of 'telling our story.' Police officers do so many great things that go unnoticed, and transparency is always the best practice. We have to be open to those we serve in all aspects. At the end of the day, we work for our citizens, and to be successful we must be willing to adjust to the overall needs of our community."
Roles says the efforts have been just as rewarding for the officers as it has for the citizens they help.

"Being a guardian servant is more than just answering calls for service," he said. "Officers who actively involve themselves with our citizens are more fulfilled, more trusted, more believable and are better informed. These things make them more aware of what the issues in our community are so that we can keep those issues from becoming problems that other cities experience."

In addition to the initiatives implemented since Roles' arrival in Bartlesville, the department offers a Ride Along program and a Citizens Police Academy to help give citizens an inside look at what BPD officers do. BPD also participates in the Washington County Community Council and maintains a significant presence on social media, publishing traffic/event updates and featuring “employee spotlights.” 

"These spotlights highlight a selected employee and give the public more insight into the person behind the job, behind the badge," Roles says. "This is great for our community and also for our officers."
Other public forums aimed at community engagement include self defense for women and traffic stop awareness forums and the wildly popular MILO Day event and K9 demonstrations.

"We have never turned down an invitation to come speak at an event or meeting," Roles said.

Future projects on tap for BPD include the creation of a Citizens Youth Police Academy for 13-18 year olds in the near future, Roles said.

"We all have to do better with connecting with our youth and building more positive and lasting relationships with them," he said. "This will start that trusting process at a much younger age, which will only serve to help us all in the future. A Citizens Youth Police Academy is another way we can forge those relationships and have a lasting, positive impact on our youth."

Even with these projects under their belt, BPD staff and leadership continue to strive for more — more open dialogue, more transparency, and more opportunities to educate.

"Community involvement and engagement is an ongoing and continuous process," Roles said. "We are always thinking of ways we can do better for our community. The City of Bartlesville deserves the best. That is what we are striving for — to be the best police department in the state, to set the example for other departments to follow. We believe we can do this best by continuing to make our citizens, and our relationships with them, one of our very top priorities."

BPD will host a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. July 29 at City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave. Everyone is welcome to attend and ask questions pertaining to any policing matter. Email questions to tdroles@cityofbartlesville.org or contact the police department at 918.338.4050. 

For more information about the Bartlesville Police Department, see BPD Annual Report.
Photos, clockwise from top left: Officer Sierra Compton helps a Bartlesville resident mow his lawn; Officer Jim Lay cools off with a lemonade at Bentley Elkins' stand; Officer Luke Reeves helps a stranded motorist; Cpl. Jessica Pitts stops for a quick pic with some Bartlesville residents; A young citizen gives Officer Steven Letterman a high five after receiving an "official citation," worth a Sonic ice cream; Cpl. Brad Dunkle presents an official citation, aka ice cream voucher, to a Bartlesville resident; E-911 Dispatcher Hannah Harbour-Secondine participates in the Delaware Family Tribe Family and Children Services Community Fair in April; Officer Billy McCall spends with some time with BPD supporters at First Responder Night, held at Bartlesville Kiddie Park in June; Cpl. Brandon Meyer plays a game of Four Square with some pros at the Boys & Girls Club.
Director's Cut
Sales tax revenue: 2021-22 off to good start
July marks the first month of the City of Bartlesville's new fiscal year, and CFO/City Clerk Jason Muninger is happy to say FY 2021-22 is off to a good start. Sales tax continues to show good returns after finishing the previous fiscal year, which closed June 30, exceeding budget expectations. Muninger gives an update in this week's edition of Director's Cut.

City Beat: We have the July sales tax report showing sales tax receipts for July, the first month of the City's fiscal year. How did we do?

Muninger: Very well, actually. Sales tax for the month reflect the largest July deposit on record, at $1.8 million. That's an 8 percent increase, or $140,000, over the same period last year and $150,000 over budget expectation.

The City seems to be on a winning streak lately, with increases in sales tax revenue coming in consistently. How did FY 2020-21 end up?

The City performed very well for FY 2020-21, especially given all the unknowns we faced last year due to the pandemic. We ended the year 5.5 percent over the prior year’s sales tax collections, which is 11.2 percent over what we anticipated when we finalized the budget at that time the previous year.

What do you attribute trend this to?

We always like to stress that the reasons for fluctuations in sales tax revenue can't be known for certain. However, we believe two factors contribute to the July receipts and the increases in revenue last year. One is that Bartlesville residents are choosing to shop locally more than in the past, likely due to the pandemic. The other factor is federal stimulus funds, as we have noticed a correlation in the timing of the issuance of stimulus funds and the increased sales. In short, people simply have more money to spend and they are spending it in Bartlesville.

Can you remind everyone what these sales tax revenues are used for?

Sales tax revenue makes up the bulk of the General Fund, which is used to fund almost all City operations. This includes General Fund personnel and all City programs and services except utilities. In other words, just about everything not funded through Utility Funds comes from the General Fund.

Do we expect this upward trend to continue?

We certainly hope so. Larger municipalities in our state are not faring nearly as well, so those communities are really hurting. Bartlesville is very fortunate to have the support of the citizens and a robust business community that is able to keep consumers shopping locally.
PSAs
COVID relief funds available

If you need help with rent or utility costs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, call Concern at 918.214.8945 to apply for COVID relief funds.
2021 Operation Clean House set for September 18

Operation Clean House will be held on Sept. 18. Sponsored by multiple area agencies, including the City of Bartlesville, organizations and businesses, the event is aimed at helping Washington County residents dispose of hazardous household and automotive goods without harming the environment or endangering human health. Details for this year's event, including accepted items and drop-off locations, will be announced soon. For the latest OCH news, follow @OperationCleanHouseWashingtonCounty.
Cultural Arts
Library resumes free, monthly craft classes
inspiration_magic.jpg
Free, monthly adult crafting classes have resumed at Bartlesville Public Library. All classes are from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and then repeated again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.. Basic materials will be provided.
 
July 27
Rebecca Whisman will provide an overview and demonstrate how to use the Cricut Maker, a cutting machine, and all of the possibilities using Cricut Design Space.
 
August 24
Attendees will leave with a 12-inch by 12-inch barn quilt, a piece of wood painted to look like a single quilt block, and some patterns and the knowledge to create more in a variety of sizes.
 
Sept. 21
Participants will begin a scarf while learning the stitches, tools, and techniques needed to get started with crochet. The class will include step-by-step instructions and information on how to select the right yarn, read yarn labels, properly hold the hook, make basic stitches, and become comfortable reading patterns.
 
Oct. 19
Attendees will learn the very basics of knitting, such as materials for beginners, reading a basic pattern, holding the knitting needles and yarn, as well step-by-step instructions in how to tie a slip knot, how to knit and purl, cast on, and bind off.
 
Nov. 16
Participants will learn how to make wire wrapped jewelry.
 
Dec. 14
Attendees will paint and create a one-of-a-kind mandala style ornament. They will learn about preparation, paints, the basic geometry, tools, techniques and the how-to of dot mandala construction.
 
Registration is required for all the classes as class size is limited. To register call the Local and Family History desk at 918.338.4167.
EAC News
Parker named EAC Employee of the Month
City of Bartlesville Maintenance Repair Technician Terry Parker has been named Employee of the Month for July by the City Employee Advisory Committee. The EAC consists of City employees who meet regularly to discuss and identify needs for City employees who are not represented by a bargaining agent.

Parker was nominated for the recognition by fellow Maintenance Repair Technician Bo Schultz after Parker and co-worker Mike Zoski, who has since retired, assisted a man in need of medical attention last month.

"While at Spectrum Paint purchasing supplies for work, they saw a man lying on the ground. They approached him to check on him, noticed he needed emergency care and called 911," Schultz said. "Because of their prompt attention they were able to get the man medical help."

Employees of the Month receive a $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant, $25 in Chamber Bucks and eight hours of special vacation pay.
City Manager Mike Bailey, right, congratulates Maintenance Repair Technician Terry Parker for taking action recently to assist a local resident in need of medical attention. Parker was named Employee of the Month for July by the Employee Advisory Committee.
Do you know a City of Bartlesville employee who deserves special recognition? Let the EAC know! Email your information to EAC@cityofbartlesville.org.
Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer Opportunities.jpg
Board, Committee & Commission Openings

The City of Bartlesville has numerous boards, committees and commissions that are driven by citizen volunteers. All citizens are encouraged and welcome to apply.

Board applications are located online and in the city manager’s office, located on the second floor of City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave. Applications are kept on file for two years. To view a complete list, see Boards, Committees & Commissions.

The City currently has the following committee/board openings:

  • Two openings on the Ambulance Commission
  • One opening on the City Planning Commission
  • One opening on the Construction and Fire Code Appeals Board
  • Three openings on the White Rose Cemetery Board

For more information, visit the City's website, www.cityofbartlesville.org.
Help Wanted
join_our_team_sign.jpg
Job Listing

The City of Bartlesville is currently accepting applications for the following positions:

Construction Crew Leader - Water Department
Maintenance Worker - Water Distribution
Fiscal Technician - Accounting & Finance
Summer help - Parks
Library Assistant Tech Services (part-time) - Library
Building Inspector - Community Development
Maintenance Worker - Street Department
Police Dispatcher - Police Department

For an application or more information, visit the City's website, www.cityofbartlesville.org.
Want City Beat delivered to your inbox each week? Sign up!
Do you have questions you would like to see answered or addressed in City Beat? Let us know! Email kwilliams@cityofbartlesville.org, attn. City Beat.
Kelli Williams, Editor
401 S. Johnstone Ave.
Bartlesville, OK 74003
918-338-4132