City Councilors Get Good News For 2015 Budget

Thursday, June 12th 2014, 10:40 pm

There's a slight improvement in the budget for the City of Tulsa, but that small increase is leading to significant changes.

The sales tax money coming in now is up by just one-percent, but that's enough to roll back some of the most visible cuts that were planned for next year.

Councilors got the first good news in a while on the city budget. There's enough money coming in to start eliminating cuts to next year's budget.

"We're talking about covering something that's in the million dollar range; if you take Henthorne, the crossing guards, the PAC and the other things, that amounts to about a million dollars," said Tulsa City Councilor, Phil Lakin.

The council has committed to saving most of the Henthorne Performing Arts Center programs for another year.

5/6/2014 Related Story: New Tulsa Budget Forces Cuts To Performing Arts

City Parks Director, Lucy Dolman, said, "If we can get $108,000, that would allow us to continue the programs, continue the performances at Henthorne, three or four of them next year.

Reid Patten with Clark Theatre, said, "I am extremely relieved. I've known we were going to be able to come up with a solution, even if it wasn't the ideal solution, but having that there now is a big weight off of all of our shoulders."

The improving budget means Tulsa Transit can avoid cuts in service with a small fare increase.

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

"These cuts would make it a little less convenient to get around town, so if they're able to do something to eliminate those cuts, that's terrific," said Bill Cartwright, with Tulsa Transit.

The better numbers can save jobs at the PAC with an extra 50 cent fee on every ticket.

"No matter the cuts, we'll survive the cuts, but I don't think we would have survived without the people and the positions," said John Scott with the Tulsa PAC.

With a week still to go in budget planning, the city expects to have enough money to continue paying school crossing guards for the coming year.

5/2/2014 Related Story: School Crossing Guards May Be Cut From City Of Tulsa Budget

The budget isn't final, so the numbers could change, and so could the priorities.

One councilor would like to see new money go into a police academy.

About half of the money is from the sales tax and the rest is from increasing fees, especially on permits for burglar alarms. Overall the total is about $1 million.