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City finds millions of dollars in repair needs at Navistar bus plant


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Steve Berg, KRMG  /  May 6, 2020

Major maintenance problems have been found at the Navistar school bus assembly factory in north Tulsa.

That's the word from Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who says the city found millions of dollars in repair needs during inspections, as part of their process to work out a new lease with the company.

Navistar leased the giant building 20 years ago for just one dollar, but with the understanding they would pay for the upkeep.

Mayor Bynum says they haven't maintained the building sufficiently, but he stresses he wants Navistar to stay in Tulsa.

“But we recognize we can't keep them here for the long haul, if the building gets run into the ground,” Bynum said.

Mayor Bynum points out these are not minor cosmetic issues.

He says there are problems with the roofing and electrical systems that affect the building's structural integrity.


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Navistar, City Of Tulsa Dispute Over Rent

News On 6  /  April 6, 2020

One of Tulsa’s largest employers accuses the City of trying to evict them from their building.

Navistar leases part of the Air Force Plant #3 at the airport, but a 20-year lease expired in January, and the two sides can’t agree on terms for a renewal.

The negotiations started two years ago, according to the City, and both sides agree the dispute centers on maintenance needs for the building.

The City requires Navistar to maintain the property as part of the lease, but the City claims Navistar has put it off. Plant Manager Randy Tharp said the company spend $1 million each year on maintenance and the building is suitable as is for their needs.

The company launched a website with claims the City wants to evict Navistar and in response the City released documents detailing their efforts to extend the lease and reach an agreement on the maintenance.

Navistar employs 1,600 people at the bus plant, which turns out 74 buses each day.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said, “The main financial requirement of that lease is that they maintain the building, and then they don't it?” in arguing it wouldn’t be good stewardship of City assets to let the maintenance needs lapse.

The City claims an independent inspector found millions of dollars in overdue maintenance, and that Navistar’s own inspectors found similar issues.

Tharp, the Plant Manager, said the City’s termination letter for the original lease, raised alarms for the employees.

“When we get a letter that says we're terminating your lease, that hits home, to 1,600 people.And we want to be heard” said Tharp.

Bynum said the City won’t agree to a long-term lease without a written plan for repairs. The current extension runs through the end of May. Bynum said the notion the City wanted to evict Navistar was not true.

“Why they would say that to their employees, and their employees’ families in the middle of this economic crisis? For the life of me, I can't understand it, except that it's a hard ball negotiation tactic,” said Bynum.

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  • 4 weeks later...

City of Tulsa, IC Bus Announce New 20-Year Agreement For Bus Manufacturing Plant

TULSA, Oklahoma, May 28, 2020 -- The City of Tulsa, Mayor G.T. Bynum and IC Bus announced that a new 20-year agreement has been reached to keep the IC Bus school bus manufacturing facility at Tulsa International Airport. The new agreement builds on the City's efforts to grow and expand its economic base of manufacturing operations.

"This agreement establishes a win-win partnership between the City of Tulsa and IC Bus for decades to come," Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said. "The industry leader in school bus manufacturing will have a home to build products that are trusted all around the world, while local jobs are secured and the taxpayers' facility is properly maintained for the long term. I am excited for the future of IC Bus in Tulsa."

The nearly mile-long, 1-million-square-foot plant is the world's leading producer of school buses. Bus production is currently at its peak, and approximately 75 vehicles are typically produced daily.

"We'd like to thank Mayor Bynum for his personal involvement in resolving these negotiations," said Phil Christman, president of Operations for Navistar International Corporation, the parent company of IC Bus. "Thanks to his leadership, we have a decades-long framework to stay, invest and grow the IC Bus plant and our supply chain in Tulsa and the state of Oklahoma. Tulsa is a great community with a talented workforce. We're very pleased to be remaining in Tulsa, and look forward to keeping it what it is today – the school bus capital of the world."

Mayor Bynum's agreement with IC Bus retains the following economic benefits in Tulsa for years to come:

  • More than 1,600 men and women have careers manufacturing and assembling the safest, most technologically advanced school buses ever made.
  • Manufacturing jobs provide economic opportunity and stable careers for Tulsa families, and the IC Bus plant provides annual direct income of more than $60 million annually. The average team member has worked at the plant for 6.5 years.
  • The IC Bus plant spends $750 million each year on vendors and suppliers, including more than 100 Oklahoma-based businesses.
  • An IC Bus supplier, IMMI, is building a 45,000-square-foot greenfield manufacturing plant, specializing in the manufacturing of seating systems, in Tulsa to support the assembly of school buses at the IC Bus Plant.
  • The new lease prioritizes current and long-term investments in plant maintenance and improvements and creates an automatic process for establishing a multi-year investment program every 5-years of the lease.
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