City of Tulsa Is Back On Track To Balance Its Budget
By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The City of Tulsa is back on track to make the budget balance, but only after weeks of negotiations on pay cuts and layoffs.
And the balance in the budget could easily change if the economy gets worse.
While the public safety unions were voting last week, some of the city's laid off civilian employees were signing up for unemployment.
David Richardson is one of the 30 city employees laid off last week.
"Honestly, I think the mayor has bent over backwards for fire and police, and in a way I think it's needed because they are public safety, but in a way I think they've been given more options," said David Richardson.
City Hall laid off 65 civilian employees to save $1.2 million. Thirty-five of the employees found other jobs with the city, through "bumping" rights based on seniority.
"What we've been trying to do is with employees that have been laid off and are subject to bumping, is to find vacant positions in lower positions that they qualify for that they can go into," said Jim Twombly, Director of Administration.
Sunday night, the firefighters union approved concessions that will save the city $2.5 million. The alternative was a mass layoff of firefighters.
"One hundred forty-seven of us were on the chopping block and the rest of them didn't have to vote to save our jobs, but they did and I appreciate it greatly," said Michael McGhee, a Tulsa firefighter.
The Tulsa police union rejected salary cuts. So to save the targeted $2.9 million, the city laid off 124 police officers last Friday. The union made concessions that saved 27 officers from layoffs, but for now, city hall says there are no ongoing talks about hiring back the police officers.
The fire union has their contract settled for the next year.
Police and the civilian employees are on a contract that runs out in June. So they'll start negotiations while the city has no positive signs from the economy.
The new sales tax numbers will come out next week.