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Tulsa Police And Fire Departments Face New Budget Cuts

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The city council wants to know how fire and police plan to handle fiscal years 2013 and 2014, when the streets will take money that was budgeted for equipment. The city council wants to know how fire and police plan to handle fiscal years 2013 and 2014, when the streets will take money that was budgeted for equipment.
The cuts for the fire department amount to $1.57 million a year and for the police department, $5.9 million a year. The cuts for the fire department amount to $1.57 million a year and for the police department, $5.9 million a year.

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Another budget problem for Tulsa Police and Tulsa Fire for the current fiscal year has cropped up at Tulsa City Hall.

It's a matter of priorities and with the voters' approval of the streets package, money for police and fire equipment was redirected into road repairs.

The problem is still a couple of years away, but it's so significant, the solution has to be figured out soon.

Tulsa Police have two budget problems ahead.

The first is how to not only add officers to the force, but keep paying salaries for the officers they already have.

The second is how to pay for cars and computers for two years when the city will redirect equipment money into road repairs.

The looming equipment shortage is not just a problem for police.

"Basically fiscal year 13 or 14 we will not have capital replacement costs in the total of $1.57 million," said Deputy Chief Scott Clark, Tulsa Fire Department.

The city council wants to know how fire and police plan to handle fiscal years 2013 and 2014, when the streets will take money that was budgeted for equipment.

The cuts for Tulsa Fire amount to $1.57 million a year and for the police department, $5.9 million a year.

For Tulsa Police, that money would have replaced 170 mobile computers, 122 desktop computers, 104 marked cars and 30 unmarked cars.

A deputy chief in the police department said officers may have to drive cars beyond 5 years and 100,000 miles to extend the life of cars that are usually worn out by then.

"Well we make full use of our cars and we try to drive them to the extent of their useful life consistent with maintaining a warranty on the vehicle," said Deputy Chief Daryl Webster, Tulsa Police.

The fire department has already decided it can rework the equipment budget by switching over to paramedic squad trucks.

The police department isn't sure yet how to make it through two years with no new cars or computers.

The city council got some new information Tuesday about paying police salaries. The federal stimulus grant that was intended to pay for 18 new police officers can be used as salaries for officers who would be laid off otherwise. No decision has been made on how to use that money.

Funding for Fix Our Streets 2008 projects will come from both sales taxes and general obligation bonds issued by the City of Tulsa.

According to the Fix Our Streets web site:

The sales taxes consist of an extension of the Third Penny Sales Tax (one cent) through 2014, and a tax extension of the same amount as the current Tulsa County Four-to-Fix sales tax (0.167 cent). When the County Four-to-Fix tax expires in 2012, the City of Tulsa will begin collection of a 0.167-cent sales tax through 2014, providing $35.6 million to support Fix Our Streets 2008.

In 2013, the Third Penny Sales Tax will make a transition from projects in the 2006 Sales Tax to the new Fix Our Streets 2008 projects. The Third Penny Sales Tax will provide $131 million through 2014 for Fix Our Streets projects.

To complete the funding for Fix Our Streets 2008, the City of Tulsa will issue $285 million in general obligation bonds beginning in Fiscal Year 2010, which begins in July, 2009 as previous general obligation bonds for street improvements expire. The bonds result in property tax increases that in the maximum year of impact - 2015 - will be proportional to 6.3 mills, or just $63 per year, for a $100,000 house.

 

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