How Close Is The City Of Tulsa To Declaring Bankruptcy?
By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tensions and frustrations are riding high leading to a pretty dire prediction on Thursday from a City of Tulsa official.
The Tulsa fire chief claimed if the city doesn't take action on its budget problems, it could face bankruptcy.
Is the city's situation that bad? Is bankruptcy even a possibility?
A frustrated Tulsa fire chief Allen LaCroix gave new urgency to the city's financial quagmire.
"The layoffs have to occur by February 15th, or the city's in the position it may have to file bankruptcy. That's how serious this situation is," Allen LaCroix said.
When pressed on the issue, LaCroix clarified the city is far from filing papers.
"It's just a term - the mayor can't ignore what's happening. You just can't continue on and negotiate and negotiate. And come July there's $10 million and we can't pay bills," LaCroix said.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the reality is the city is "not in the throes of bankruptcy."
The News On 6 caught up with the mayor just before he flew to Dallas to participate a business recruiting trip.
"If we don't take action today, tomorrow, soon, in several months, six months, 12 months from now, we could be, serious financial problems," said Dewey Bartlett.
But is bankruptcy even an option for the city of Tulsa?
The city's legal department says there is a rarely used section of bankruptcy law, called Chapter 9, which does allow a city to file for bankruptcy protection with state approval.
Famously, Orange County, California filed for bankruptcy in 1994 after a series of bad investments.
New York City came very close, back in 1975, but thanks to NYC's unions, that never happened.
That's the kind of cooperation Chief Allen LaCroix and Mayor Dewey Bartlett are hoping for from Tulsa's police and fire unions.
To underline just how serious the situation is, the city has seen its income, which is driven mostly by sales taxes, dropped significantly for nine straight months. The city finance experts call that trend unprecedented.