City Of Tulsa Administration Reveals Plan To Cut Spending

Thursday, January 9th 2014, 9:45 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's city government has a $7 million hole in its budget and officials caution that it could get even worse.

On Thursday, the administration revealed a plan to cut spending and told the council more cuts are likely over the next six months.

Halfway through the budget year, the city's top finance guru says things aren't getting any better. But it's not so bad that the city needs to lay off employees.

Instead, city hall will cut back even further on new hires, especially in the parks, police and streets departments.

"We're not talking layoffs; we're talking about positions that have opened up at some point and they have committed to holding those positions open," City of Tulsa Finance Director Mike Kier said.

The city has to fill a $7 million gap that's developed over just six months.  They'll take steps like moving seven firefighters in administration back out to the field.

FY Budget Reductions-General Fund only

For police, delaying 16 new civilian hires to handle routine work.

Tulsa Transit will delay service upgrades on three routes

The streets department will take the biggest cut -- $811,000 -- by not filling positions and cutting back on mowing.

"These positions are really impacting the departments and they'll cut back on the programs and services that we provide," City of Tulsa City Manager Jim Twombly said.

The city councilors were told the specifics of the cuts came from department heads, but councilor Blake Ewing questions the sense in the fire department cutting costs with existing workers while planning to hire new cadets next month.

"My first instinct says take care of the people already on your team before you bringing other people on," Ewing said.

The plan comes from the mayor's office, but it's up to the council to change or approve it.

The administration is cautioning, it's likely just the beginning.

"This was difficult, but for us to be able to identify savings for the rest of the fiscal year, if the trend continues, it's going to be difficult," Twombly said.

And that's because the $7 million savings really just balanced the budget for now, but the city is still spending more than it has coming in.

The latest sales tax check, for December, was about a half million dollars less than expected.