Taylor Unveils Tulsa's Proposed Budget

Thursday, April 30th 2009, 9:41 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor unveiled next year's budget to the city council Thursday night.

It includes a number of ways to make up a multimillion-dollar projected budget shortfall. One idea is furloughs for city employees.

Facing rising expenses and dropping revenue collections because of the economic downturn, Taylor presented next year's budget proposal to the city council.

"Let me be clear on one point -- it is not the budget I prefer," she said.

Taylor says the $578 million budget, reduced by $8 million compared to this fiscal year, reflects the harsh reality of the current economy.

The budget proposal includes the elimination of 96 positions citywide, 17 currently filled with workers, which will save the city $3.2 million.

"It's very difficult, but it's outside of our control from the standpoint of revenues," Taylor said. "We spent countless hours reviewing every line of this budget."

The mayor says to avoid eliminating 45 additional jobs, she's asking city employees to take four unpaid furlough days, which amounts to a 1.5 percent salary reduction.

"I don't believe that this is a permanent economic downturn," Taylor said. "If it were permanent, we would be forced to go ahead and do additional position reductions. The temporary furlough allows us to keep the talent of the employees on board."

The proposed budget also includes raising water and sewer rates by 2.47 cents a month for the average residential customer.

"It's not something we have any control over," Taylor said. "We have to produce a balanced budget.

"Unlike the federal government, we don't get to print money. We have to make sure every dollar we spend is in the bank when we spend it, so that's the reality of the situation."

While cuts are being proposed, the budget includes a fire and police academy to help maintain current public safety staffing levels.

Taylor will meet with city employees Friday morning to discuss the budget.

The city council has until June 23 to approve the budget, which would go into effect July 1, when the new fiscal year starts.