Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Says Department Furloughs Possible

Friday, May 21st 2010, 6:14 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- There's a problem with the payroll in the mayor's office: not enough money to pay employees. It's the result of a dispute between the mayor and city council.

The mayor has a $1.1 million budget, but that's not quite enough to make it through July.

He asked the council for more and didn't get it. Now he isn't sure what he's going to do.

"I don't want to shut down the mayor's office; don't want to do that," Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said.

A frustrated Mayor Bartlett said Friday he hopes to avoid it but could not rule out furloughs for his employees unless the city council approves more money for his office.

"I disagree with their position, but that's OK; I understand their frustration," he said.

The council was more than frustrated, exasperated is more like it.

"That's the problem, we hear one thing and then we hear another thing," said Bill Christiansen, Tulsa City Councilor.

Over the last few months, councilors heard several different explanations of why the mayor's department needs more money.

"I just want to know what tough decisions were made by the Mayor's office to make sure that he stayed within the budget that he has," Jack Henderson, Tulsa City Councilor, said.

Despite assurances that deep cuts were made, councilors refused to put money back in the mayor's office.

Even with the new spending money, the mayor's office would be taking a 9.2 percent cut for the year, while other departments averaged 8.7 percent.

Without new spending money, the mayor's office will take an 18.6% cut - more than twice as much as everyone else.

"We really have made in the whole, a very substantial cut in our budget, in our mayor's budget," Bartlett said. "Apparently we didn't present it well enough. They either didn't understand it or it wasn't presented to them well."

The Council, meanwhile, approved spending more for their own department, more on human rights, the city auditor, and information technology.

More money was approved for the legal department, fire, police and public works.

Mayor Bartlett said he's meeting over the weekend with the finance department to look for alternatives but regardless, he's been assured there's enough money to run his office until the end of the month.

5/20/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Turns Down Funds for Mayor's Office Payroll