Tulsa Parks Department Could Have Budget Surplus By End Of Fiscal Year

Tuesday, June 22nd 2010, 9:22 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Budget woes have forced the City of Tulsa to make massive cuts, but one department may have slashed too much.

The Parks department says by the end of the fiscal year, it may have a surplus of more than $300,000.

The availability of this extra cash has angered one city councilor who would like to see more pools opened. But the Parks Department says it simply made the cuts it was supposed to.

The kids at Whiteside Park are enjoying a right of summer that is now a privilege. It's one of only five city pools opened this year, and it's bankrolled by donors.

6/5/2010 Related Story: Five City Of Tulsa Pools Open For Summer Thanks To Private Donations

The city already isn't footing the bill for a number of park service's this summer. At Whiteside, the grass is being mowed by volunteers, and the pool is only open because of private donations.

People contributed $250,000 to open the pools. But the Parks Department now says it may have a surplus of $320,000.

City Councilor Jack Henderson says he nearly jumped off the deep end when he heard about the extra cash.

"That's surprising to me because when I heard it I thought are they talking about three dollars and 20 cents, or are they talking about the real money?" Henderson said.

Park officials say just like every other city department, they were forced to do some severe belt-tightening. They say budgeting for the summer season begins in the winter, and given the cold economic climate, they erred on the side of caution.

"No we could not have waited," said Dwain Midget, City of Tulsa. "And no we didn't know we would have ended up with a fund balance of $320,000."

But Henderson wishes the Parks Department had dipped into its reserves.

"It's kind of sad that when kids expected a swimming pool to be open, they were told they couldn't be open because they didn't have any funds," Henderson said. "And then in the end they have this amount of money that could have opened a few more pools."

6/7/2010 Related Story: Improvements Underway For Tulsa Parks