Tulsa City Council Rejects Part Of Mayor's Budget Proposal

Tuesday, December 14th 2010, 7:08 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Tulsa City Council cut apart some budget changes requested by the mayor, rejecting the urgency of adding any new employees to the payroll.

The City Council looked at a $1.5 million budget addition from the mayor's office, and rejected parts because they didn't believe was as urgent as the mayor suggested.

12/13/2010 Related Story: Uncollected Sales Tax Could Add $1.5 Million To Tulsa City Budget

"The $400,000 for legal services, for outside counsel, without question," said Mayor Bartlett.

Mayor Bartlett brought the change to the council as a mid-course correction to the budget that written in early summer.

Both the money coming in and going out was not expected back then. Councilor GT Bynum wanted to split apart the items, so only the top priorities would go forward.

"I still think that $18 million budget number that you brought up for next year is a real concern," Bynum said.

Mayor Bartlett said while the budget next year was a concern, several new spending items couldn't wait until then.

"The $18 million shortfall we're still very focused on, it's less, we have made some improvements," Bartlett told councilors.

But several councilors rejected the budget items because even though they've been in the works for months, they were delivered to the council as an urgent request that needed approval this week.

"There's a lot of things on here, a lot more than we can look at today, and then decide on Thursday that we need to go ahead and let this pass, again it's smoke and mirrors and we're going to get duped if we do that," said Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson.

Councilor Rick Westcott agreed with the others who wanted to split up the request, arguing the City needed to take care of existing employees before hiring more.

"We gotta consider taking some effort to find funding to reduce the employees remaining furlough days before we got out and create new positions," Westcott said.

The council looks likely to approve 5 of the mayor's priorities but leave out one what he said was most important: $400,000 to step up the city's defense of police corruption cases.

They will delay money for new employees until they can spend more time looking at the need.

Meanwhile, the option of billing insurance companies for fire response is still alive at Tulsa City Hall.

5/12/2010 Related Story: City Of Tulsa Considering Fire Service Fee

The plan is to seek reimbursement for the cost of responding to car accidents and house fires, which is estimated at $200 per truck, per hour. Only people who carry insurance would be billed.

The city has determined in the last year, the proposed fee would have brought in $393,000.  City Councilor Chris Trail wants part of the money set aside to install GPS units in fire trucks.

The idea was considered then rejected in the current budget.