Mayor G.T. Bynum speaks to city councilors Wednesday about his proposal to have the city operate its own jail. KEVIN CANFIELD/The Frontier

Tulsa County officials wasted no time Wednesday identifying sites for a new court holding facility.

Less than two hours after Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum announced that the city would be taking possession of the existing court holding facility for use as the city’s jail, representatives from the Board of County Commissioners, the Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office met to discuss what spaces were available for a new court holding facility.

Commissioner Ron Peters said two options came out of Wednesday’s meeting: space on the third floor of the Tulsa County Courthouse; and first-floor office space in the adjacent Tulsa County Administration building that was once occupied by former Sheriff Stanley Glanz and his staff.

“The city has given us 30 days to get out of there, so they can begin their work,” Peters said. “And the sheriff believes we can comply with that time frame. Will it be easy? No. Can it be done? Yes.”

The existing court holding facility is inside the Tulsa Police Courts Building, 600 Civic Center. The facility, which holds approximately 200 people, is where inmates from the Tulsa Jail are held while they wait to appear in court next door at the courthouse.

Bynum and Peters have been negotiating for eight months on an agreement to house city  inmates in the Tulsa Jail, also known as the David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center. But Bynum announced Wednesday that with the parties unable to come to an agreement, the city has decided to turn the existing court holding facility into the city jail.

The facility is owned by the city.

Bynum said the city has averaged about 25 municipal inmates a day in the Tulsa Jail over the past two years. The new city jail will have 30 beds. In addition, the city has signed an agreement with the Okmulgee County Criminal Justice Authority to hold inmates should the city jail exceed capacity.

Individuals arrested in Tulsa on state or federal charges will continue to be booked into the Tulsa Jail.

In a press conference after the City Council meeting, Bynum said what ultimately kept the two sides from making a deal was an inability to identify what a fair cost was to hold city inmates in the Tulsa Jail.

“Every other major city in Tulsa County has its own lock-up facility that they utilize, so they don’t have all these issues and conflicts that we have run into,” Bynum said. “And so after eight months of working with Commissioner Peters on this, trying to really fit a square peg into a round hole, I finally decided, you know what, let’s just do what every other city is already doing, avoid the conflict, so that we can work with Tulsa County and move forward on more productive things that are actually going to grow our city.”

Peters said he wishes the city well and that he looks forward to working with the city on other issues.

“I think they are going to maybe find this is more costly than they anticipate,” Peters said. “That said, I hope it works out for them.”

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said his first concern is courthouse security.

“I have confidence in my sheriff that he will make appropriate decisions to handle inmates and make sure their constitutional rights are protected,” Kunzweiler said.

The city of Tulsa and Tulsa County have been arguing for years over what the city should pay to hold its inmates in the Tulsa Jail.

In 1995, a countywide sales tax was approved by voters that paid for the construction and operation of the jail. Some previous city mayors have interpreted that vote to mean that the city would not have to pay the county to hold municipal inmates in the jail.

A municipal inmate is defined as an individual facing only municipal charges.

The dispute came to a head under former Mayor Kathy Taylor, who sued the county after it tried to charge the city for holding municipal inmates in the jail. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed, and the parties in May 2009 signed a five-year agreement setting a daily rate.

The agreement called for the city to pay $45 per municipal inmate per day for the first 35 inmates and $54.13 per inmate per day for any additional inmates.

Since that agreement expired in 2014, the city – without a formal agreement – has been paying the same rate as the U.S. Marshal’s Service, which is now set at $69 per inmate per day.

Bynum estimated Wednesday that the city would spend approximately $550,000 to turn the court holding facility into the city’s jail. The city is expected to spend $1.2 million a year to operate it. That figure includes hiring 16 detention officers and two full-time police officers to operate the jail.

The $1.2 million figure is approximately $300,000 less than what the city would have paid had it continued to hold its inmates in the Tulsa Jail.

County commissioners recently changed what it charges the city to hold inmates in the jail. Under the new rate schedule, the city must pay not only for inmates held in the jail for municipal charges, but for those booked on “mixed” city and state charges, until such time as the municipal charge has been adjudicated.

The result was that the number of inmates the city would be charged for was expected to nearly double, increasing the city’s annual cost to approximately $1.5 million.