Tulsa Mayor Vetoes City Council's Budget Changes

Wednesday, June 23rd 2010, 4:16 pm
By: News On 6


TULSA, OK – The budget battle isn't over at City Hall. 

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett vetoed changes to the city budget Wednesday.  The City Council approved the amendments to the budget last week.

6/18/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Approves Budget For Next Fiscal Year

The mayor vetoed money that would eliminate four employee furlough days, increase salaries for fire fighters and fix potholes.

Money for highway lighting, the police helicopter and winter storm response was vetoed as well.  In all, $2.9 million in spending that the council had added to the budget.

"We work for the citizens, they are our boss, and we're doing what they told us they need and they want," said Councilor Chris Trail. "And to have it vetoed is just amazing, I was kind of, really, shocked by it."

The money for the council's priorities is coming from cuts to employee travel, the mayor's office, and legal and consulting fees, but most of the money is what's expected to be leftover from cuts made this year.

"The adopted budget restores activities and services without providing a stable funding source," Bartlett said in a letter to the Council Wednesday. "The expenditures, such as highway lighting, the restoration of fire department salaries, and discontinuing four furlough days for non-sworn employees would be paid for by using non-recurring fund balances."

Tulsa City Council Chair Rick Westcott predicted the Council would override the Mayor's vetoes next week.

"He said that he is opposed to the council using one-time fund for police and firefighter salaries. That's entirely inconsistent with what he's done," Westcott said. "He accepted one-time federal grant money for police and firefigther salaries. So, there's a little bit of an inconsistency that we probably need to deal with."

The City Council can vote to override the vetoes with a two-thirds vote. The earliest the council could vote would be Thursday, July 1.

"We did not pass these lightly," Westcott told the News on 6. "We considered all aspects of the Mayor's objections last week. We're doing what we think is the best thing for the citizens of Tulsa."

Council Attorney Drew Rees said it was likely the budget as amended would be filed with the state, to meet the July 1 deadline for a balanced budget. If the council overrides the veto, the vote would affect the changes in spending.

The Tulsa City Charter Article 2, Section 9, determines the Mayor's authority for a line item veto of budgetary items.

Bartlett also vetoed a measure to transfer money from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy Fund, or TARE Fund, to the city's general fund, to use for mowing and graffiti removal.

The proposal, approved by the Council earlier this month, would have transferred $746,500 to the general fund.

6/10/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Approves Trash Money Transfer

"If our revenues decline or worse, if we experience a double-dip recession, your budget is not sufficiently financed to weather much of a financial storm," Bartlett said.