Tulsa City Hall Still Working On Budget

Tuesday, June 16th 2009, 5:25 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The challenge of balancing the budget continues at Tulsa City Hall.  Number crunching was underway late Tuesday afternoon during a budget meeting.

These days just about every meeting of city government centers on how to spend less money.  Income is down and expenses are up, leaving a gap of at least $15 million.

"We may want to do something, but we need to may sure the needs are met first," said Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen.

City councilors are going over the budget line by line.  They must keep the budget balanced while pushing their own priorities.

"If we can't afford to mow the grass, I think it reflects poorly on all of us and I should not say afford to, if we choose not to," said City Councilor Bill Martinson.

The easiest places to save money are still things like cutting back on mowing the grass.  That could save $250,000 a year.

"If you don't mow the right of way, the city looks bad to people that are first coming to the city and it's a quality of life issue.  It's perception issue for people who come in from out of town," said Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen.

"There is only so much money and anything we add we'll have to find a way to delete elsewhere," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

Mayor Taylor continues to negotiate cost cuts with the city's three labor unions.  She says there is no sign Tulsa's economy will improve anytime soon.

"We're seeing unemployment go up a little bit, food stamp requests are at an all time high, we're still off budget as far as sales tax reported for June and we'll see what happens in July," said Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor.

The mayor says the Tulsa Fire Department might avoid furloughs by cutting back on education and investigations, while TPD might save money through electronic traffic tickets and staffing cutbacks guided by statistics, so officers are directed into only highest priority areas.

All of the budget work will be wrapped up in the next two weeks.