Tulsa City Council Sets Priorities For New Money, Parks Low On The List
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Tulsa City council set some priorities Thursday for any new money that comes into the budget. One councilor said it's likely the new priorities will come into play.
Last year the council spent a lot of time cutting the budget, and as usual, parks took a big hit. That's upsetting to several councilors, but still it's not one of the top priorities if there's extra money this year.
Another city of Tulsa rec center is down to the dirt. The old Clark Theater in East Tulsa has been demolished and only pieces of the concrete foundation are left.
It's another casualty of old age, deferred maintenance and a dwindling parks budget.
No one has complained about losing the old Clark Building, but City Councilor Jack Henderson doesn't like the trend.
"Every year we cut that budget. Eventually your parks are going to go away and I've been saying that for ten years and nobody has been listening, but I think this has brought it to a head and more people will be engaged to save parks in their neighborhood because they're important," Henderson said.
In this year's city budget funding for the parks arts programs got a lot of attention. Planned cuts to the Henthorne Performing Arts Center were rolled back, but even the councilors who fought for the program believe it's not sustainable under the regular city budget.
A task force is going to figure out how to keep it going.
"Is to bring together experts in this community on how we fund the arts on a long term, not just year to year. How do we fund this in a long term, responsible way," said City Councilor G.T. Bynum.
After yet another demolition of a rec center at B.C. Franklin Park, there were complaints that the public didn't get proper notice.
Henderson said despite long term plans for demolition the city ought to be more up front before they happen.
"I think it's an injustice to the community that something like that can happen without them being notified, and if their councilor gets notified then I can notify them," he said.
If there's a turnaround in the budget the council plans to, first, cover raises for city employees, then a police academy and then spend more on health insurance for employees.
Parks would be further down the line.
Bynum is sure, that they were so conservative with budgeting that more money could come in and some of that spending will be possible.