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Tulsa City Council Hears From Public Over 2015 Budget

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A theater group has been at city hall for the last few meetings, hoping to drum up support for the Henthorne Arts program, which is not in next year's budget as it stands. A theater group has been at city hall for the last few meetings, hoping to drum up support for the Henthorne Arts program, which is not in next year's budget as it stands.
Karen Gilbert said it's important for councilors to hear from the public. Karen Gilbert said it's important for councilors to hear from the public.
TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa's city council took public comments Thursday night on cuts in the upcoming city budget, and they had plenty of people who wanted to talk.

The council had plenty of input on just how much the budget matters to people, especially those counting on city services like public transit.

5/15/2014 Related Story: Tulsa Transit Cuts Service, Raises Fares After Budget Cut

It was a packed house in the city council chambers, and most of the people wanted to talk about Tulsa Transit and how cutbacks in service will change their lives.

"When you sit at home and look at four walls, you get depressed and that's not good for anyone," one woman said.

The city's transit service is already unable to meet the demand, but for the disabled, it's a critical service; for many it's the only way they have to get around.

Under the next budget the evening hours will be cut back.

One man said, "I already call a week in advance and I still may not get the ride that I need."

Person after person told councilors they can't do without the lift service for the disabled, and that any cuts in service will mean people who are already limited will be limited even more.

Transit advocate, Judy Maddox, said, "For entertainment, for family, for being a whole person, that's what we're talking about."

Tulsa Transit is planning for cuts to both, the service for the disabled, and the regular transit.

The planned cut is $691,000, and the result will be less frequent service for some routes, shorter hours on others and a fare increase for everyone.

Another group was hoping to sway the council; a group of children who are part of the Clark Theatre at the Henthorne Performing Arts Center.

5/8/2014 Related Story: City Council Reviews Tulsa Budget, Public Safety, Arts Discussed

It's scheduled to be eliminated, but the patrons of the program believe it's critical and shouldn't be the lowest priority for city funding.

"I don't know; we'd be sort of on our own. To find another theater it wouldn't be the same. The people who are there have been together for a long time," said Catherine Hartman with Clark Theatre.

That's the challenge for councilors, to balance all these things that a lot of people consider to be really important.

The councilors heard about two hours of comments, most of them on transit, and over the next couple of weeks will make what changes they can to the budget.

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