Tulsa City Council Approves Budget Cut

Thursday, February 20th 2014, 5:43 pm
By: Emory Bryan

When there's winter weather we'll be looking for snow plows, but the city departments that plow snow, and do everything else, are getting budget cuts.

Since the city wrote the budget last year, they've been rewriting it, with smaller numbers. On Thursday, some final action was made on a few of them, cutting about $4 million in spending.

Not too many people are out in the parks when it's cold, but when the weather improves, people might notice that Tulsa's parks are slowly being starved of money. They're taking cuts, just like every other city department.

The biggest batch of cuts this year went through the council Thursday night.

Tulsa City Councilor Karen Gilbert, said, "Everyone will be feeling the crunch, from streets to storm-water to police and fire."

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The city's projected shortfall so far is $7 million. The city has a hiring freeze to make up part of the difference, and plans to save the rest through cuts in other spending; like $900,000 for police, $150,000 for parks, and $1.7 million for the streets department.

And the shortfall continues to grow.

Tulsa City Manager, Jim Twombly, said, "This really covers the first 6 months of the year, we're still looking at the second 6 months and we're projecting a shortfall for the second six months of $4 to $5 million dollars.

And that is expected to hit every level of city service, even something as basic as fixing potholes. The city is cutting back on what it spends to buy material, and a hiring freeze keeps the streets department chronically understaffed.

Gilbert said the budget cuts reflect the economy.

"People aren't getting out and shopping as much as we would like them to, and cities, that's how we set our budget is sales tax and people aren't buying goods as much as they did in the past. And that's where we've had to make these cuts.

The city administration said a lot of the budget cuts so far aren't visible, like fuel savings. That's $400,000, but they believe they've found all the loose change in the sofa and after this they've got to start finding real money.