Tulsa Mayor: City Doesn't Have Money For City Council Amendments

Tuesday, August 10th 2010, 10:34 am
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said Tuesday morning the City of Tulsa does not have the money to pay for the budget amendments passed by the city council over his objection. 

Dewey Bartlett said the final budget figures from the previous year show $1.9 million available, while the city council added $2.8 million in spending.

The Tulsa City Council amendments utilized money expected to end up in reserve accounts at the end of the fiscal year. 

Bartlett has delayed some spending until the figures became available, drawing criticism from the city council.

Bartlett has started some of the spending, for highway lighting, the police helicopter unit and a partial restoration of salary cuts in the fire department.

Non-commissioned city employees have also had four furlough days eliminated.  

Bartlett says the city does not have any money for pothole repairs and salt and sand under the existing budget, because the other restored services and salaries have depleted the account the council designated to fund the items.

Bartlett said the Finance Department has already identified $18.2 million that will be needed to fill a budget gap next year. The difference is grants that are expiring and new expenses the city will have starting in 2011.

City Councilor Chris Trail questioned the mayor's numbers and said he thought the money was there, or would be, because of increasing sales tax coming in to the City of Tulsa.

Review the fund balance document the mayor presented at the Council Committee Meeting Tuesday morning.

"We do remain optimistic that the sales tax trend will be increasing, but we can't count on it at this time," said Bartlett.

City Councilor Jack Henderson also questioned the mayor's numbers and said his analysis of the situation might be incorrect.

"The money is actually there. I could sit down with an accountant and show you the opposite of what you just showed us. It's just an opinion," said Henderson.

Henderson said the mayor's reliance on conservative spending was unfairly painting a negative picture of what's available.

"As far as the bleak picture that you're painting, that may not be the real picture. It could be a lot brighter than you're painting," said Henderson.

Even traditional allies of the mayor questioned whether the numbers are reliable.

"That's not a fair comparison. One is apples, the other is oranges," said City Councilor John Eagleton.

Bartlett said his numbers are solid, in part because they're from the past. While the council is making a prediction that new money will come in to fill the gaps.

Henderson suggested money be moved from other departments to fund the council's priorities. The mayor cannot move money between departments without council approval.

Related stories:
8/3/2010 Tulsa Mayor: City's Highway Lights To Be Turned Back On September 1st
7/1/2010 Tulsa City Council Overrides Some Of Mayor Bartlett's Budget Vetoes
7/8/2010 Tulsa Mayor Delays Council's Amendments To Budget