Tulsa Mayor To Move Office Staff To Other Departments For Payroll Purposes

Tuesday, May 25th 2010, 12:44 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- There's a new development in the budget battle at Tulsa City Hall. 

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett says if the council won't approve the money to pay his staff, he'll transfer them to other departments for a month so they can be paid from there.

The mayor can do that and other mayors have moved employees around, but it has never been done with all of them just to make payroll.

While it might seem that everyone at City Hall works for the mayor, as a city department, the mayor's office is small. A total of eight employees work in the mayor's office. They range in pay from $29,000 to $150,000 - not for the mayor - for his chief of staff, Terry Simonson.

Last Thursday, the city council turned down what amounts to the last month of payroll money for the mayor's office, while approving $1.7 million for other departments -- including their own.

5/21/2010  Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Says Department Furloughs Possible

5/24/2010  Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Not Commenting On Payroll Options For Mayor's Office

Tuesday the mayor asked them to reconsider and said if they don't, he'll move his employees to other department budgets for the last month of the financial year.

"I don't want to have to go back to the financial people and say let's try to find some money in all these different departments, then manipulate the system to pay these people, I'd prefer not to do that, but if forced to do that, that's what we'll have to do," said Bartlett.

Since Bartlett took office in December, he has cut payroll by 7.7% -- that's on top of other cuts Mayor Taylor made earlier in the year. 

Bartlett argues that's enough. Some councilors aren't so sure.

Office of the Mayor: Budget Information

"I believe the mayor should have trimmed personnel costs earlier than he did. In my opinion, in these economic times, I don't believe we should be paying the mayor's chief of staff $150,000 a year," said Rick Westcott, Tulsa City Councilor.

"What my concern is if you ask every other department, you tell every other department, to cut their budget by 4.4%, then you ought to do that too. Now today they've shown us they've done that by 7.7% and I think that's important," said GT Bynum, City Councilor.

While Simonson's salary is $150,000, he's actually paid $143,000 because of salary reductions. The mayor's current pay is $96,000 because of the reduction. 

The mayor wants the council to reconsider the budget transfer this week, and if they don't, says he'll transfer the employees, on paper, effective June 1st.

5/25/2010  Related Story: Tulsa City Employees To Take Furlough Day Friday