New Budget Shortfall Hot Topic With Tulsa Mayoral Candidates

Monday, October 7th 2013, 6:34 pm
By: Emory Bryan

On Monday, candidates for Tulsa's Mayor debated issues at the Kiwanis Mayoral Forum. The city budget is now one of the top things candidates are talking about.

It hasn't taken long for challenger Kathy Taylor to start pushing Mayor Dewey Bartlett on the budget.

We reported last week that a drop in sales tax could force new cuts in spending. Both candidates claim that's why they need to be re-elected.

"We find ourselves in the red; that's what Tulsa needs to see in leadership," Kathy Taylor said.

Kathy Taylor's campaign got a gift in the news that city hall could be facing a budget shortfall. It's a new issue that can be used to attack the mayor.

"And now Tulsa's received a surprise of overspending, in a great economy," Taylor said at the forum.

Taylor hammered the mayor on the new economic news that sales tax is flat and a $3 million shortfall is expected.

10/4/2013 Related Story: Tulsa City Manager: $3 Million Budget Shortfall May Mean Cuts

Mayor Bartlett counters he's managed Tulsa through tough times before.

"Who better to manage our way out of a problem that someone who has done it recently and done it well?" Bartlett said. "That's Dewey Bartlett."

The two met for the second time, in a debate before the Tulsa downtown Kiwanis. They covered streets and crime and the usual topics, but the budget now - not four years ago - was a new one.

The old budget has been talked about before.

"We had to make a lot of changes, but look at where we are now. We're better off financially, we're living within our means, we got rid of a lot of stuff we didn't need to do," Bartlett said.

"We had $84 million less in our operating budget than Mayor Bartlett has today," Taylor said.

Kathy Taylor says she could manage whatever size budget problem Tulsa is having better than Mayor Bartlett. And she says, after trash, the budget is now on the voters minds.

"I think they're concerned about 'what happened to Tulsa's budget in a good economy?'" Taylor said.

The candidates have a couple of debates ahead - the next one is Wednesday in front of the Home Builders Association.