Bartlett Denies City Will Have Layoffs, Calls It Election Year Scare Tactics

Friday, November 1st 2013, 6:09 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Tulsa's mayor said on Friday that despite a city council discussion of furloughs and layoffs -- it's not going to happen.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett insists that a budget shortfall that could be as high as $5 million can be managed without cuts to employees; he accuses the council of trying to scare people just before an election.

A day after the city council talked about whether a budget shortfall might lead to layoffs and furloughs, the Bartlett said it's not going to happen.

"We're totally opposed to that, it's just not necessary, and yesterday it being Halloween, they just tried to scare the heck out of everybody and we don't need to do that," said Bartlett, who is running for re-election against former mayor Kathy Taylor.

Any chance of layoffs for police and fire is a sore subject with political implications at city hall. Early in Bartlett's term there were layoffs in the police department, which he blames on Taylor's past budgeting.

Now with the city sales coming in below target, it's Taylor blaming Bartlett for planning to spend every dollar that comes in.

"If you have a blip, you're going to have to cut, it's not responsible way to budget and it's not responsible to run for office and ignore the duties of the mayor," Taylor said. "He has to talk to the council and work together in a collaborative way to reduce this budget. Every day that goes by it's going to be worse in trying to deliver core city services like public safety if he doesn't."

But Bartlett said this early in the budget year, there's time to make cuts without any impact to public safety.

"We can manage our way through whatever shortfalls could exist, what we're not going to do and haven't had any discussion of doing, is layoffs or furloughs, especially in the police or fire departments," Bartlett said.

The city council might meet on the budget next week. The mayor didn't have more specifics on what's coming, except to say that layoffs and furloughs are not and won't be considered.