City of Tulsa's Budget Takes Another Hit With Declining Revenues

Tuesday, October 13th 2009, 6:55 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- It's hitting the bottom line for cities, which rely on sales tax to pay the bills.

In Tulsa, more cuts are coming to a city budget that's already been trimmed several times over what it was last year.

Three months into the new budget, another cut is coming at Tulsa City Hall and it could top $3 million. The city budget director says every source of income for the city is down.

"So sometimes if one area is doing poorly, it can be made up in another area, but in the first quarter, we're seeing negative numbers. All the major sources are below projections and we can't let that go without some expenditure reductions," said Pat Connelly, City Budget Director.

The cutbacks will impact basic city services like police, but not utility service because that's self supporting.

The cuts will come in the city's general fund. That pays for police, fire, streets and parks.

Last year, in round numbers, that budget was $255 million. This year, it was cut back to $244 million. With the new cuts, it could go down to $240 million.

"People are not spending money because they're nervous about the future," said Mayor Kathy Taylor, Tulsa.

Mayor Taylor says no decisions have been made on what will be cut, but she doesn't expect further cutbacks in pay for city employees. They have eight furlough days this year and the corresponding cut in pay.

"We're in a recession. State sales tax revenues are down, sales tax is down, and use tax, building permits, we had a cooler than normal summer so the franchise fees we normally get are down, so it's a perfect storm of decreasing revenues," said Mayor Taylor.

The spring police academy is on the list of likely cuts, along with an extending hiring freeze for all departments. There is a January police academy that's still on because of stimulus money.

For everything else, the mayor is coming up with options, but it's up to the council to make the cuts. The mayor said she expects to have suggestions ready for them within two weeks.

The economy isn't much better in Tulsa's suburbs. Sand Springs just saw an 11 percent drop in sales tax collections.

10/13/2009  Related Story: Sand Springs, Like Other Area Cities, Sees Drop In Sales Tax Revenue

Bixby received 10.7 percent less from the previous year.

Broken Arrow received 8.4 percent less from the previous year.

Owasso sales tax revenue was down 4.7 percent from the previous year.

Sapulpa received 4.3 percent less during the same period.

Jenks saw a drop of 2.7 percent in sales tax revenue from the previous year.

Glenpool's actually went up 1.3 percent.