Councilors Discuss Ways To Cut Spending In Tulsa

Thursday, November 7th 2013, 6:05 pm
By: Emory Bryan

The Tulsa City Council started a list Thursday of possible cuts. It's how they plan to plug a multi-million dollar hole in the city budget.

The Tulsa City Council plans to come up with savings in the city budget, hoping to make cuts sooner rather than later.

The new estimate is a $6.4 million dollar shortage that has to be offset with savings. So, that's how much needs to be saved between now and next July.

"Getting deeper into the hole is very much of a concern," said Councilor Karen Gilbert.

The council is starting with suggestions made three years ago that were never worked into the budget.

11/1/2013 Related Story: Bartlett Denies City Will Have Layoffs, Calls It Election Year Scare Tactics

An audit three years ago pointed out changes with $10 million's worth of impact:

It includes these cuts:

City Landscaping Services - $1,526,000
Police Outreach - $1,476,000
Water Quality PR - $345,000
Police Recruiting - $931,000

It also includes these new fees:

Police: Warrant verification: $275,000
Police: Discovery & Subpoenas $80,000
Animal Welfare: $594,000

Click here to read the entire audit

Councilor G.T. Bynum said, while public safety cuts are not being considered, cuts in recruiting new officers to the force could be made without affecting core services.

"We already have fantastic turnout for people who apply for our police academies; we have about a 4 percent selection rate. That's better than Harvard," Bynum said.

The council is looking for short term answers, but most would turn into long term savings. The problem is time.

If the annual shortfall is $6 million, cuts made mid-year have a $12 million impact.

"Every month that goes by that we don't address this, it increases the amount of cutting that we have to do," Bynum said.

The council is asking the mayor's office to update the numbers on possible savings. They've be asking the mayor to give specifics in their next meeting, two weeks from now and one week after the election.

The new sales tax check is due any day, and the city is hoping for good news from that.