Tough Economy Forces Change In Broken Arrow

Wednesday, March 18th 2009, 5:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, OK -- The tough economy is leading to tough choices for cities struggling with lower sales tax collections.

The News On 6 reported Broken Arrow's city council is raising water and sewer rates, not filling vacant jobs and looking into dozens of other ways to cover a huge budget shortfall.

3/17/2009 Related Story: Broken Arrow Council Cuts City Jobs

The News On 6 takes a closer look at the cuts.

With the struggling economy, Broken Arrow is collecting less than anticipated sales tax revenue. That's led to a nearly $2 million budget deficit.

"Recently here with the economy taking a downturn, it's really put us into a tight situation," said Keith Sterling, Broken Arrow Spokesman.

As a result, Broken Arrow is eliminating four dozen jobs that have gone unfilled. The city council also decided to raise fees for water, sewer and trash service by about $15 dollars a month.

Broken Arrow resident Sherman True hates to see it.

"I know that it's hard for a lot of people you know, and so I just don't think that raising utilities is the way to go," said Sherman True, Broken Arrow resident.

The city says even with the fee increase, residents will still pay less than what most surrounding communities charge.

Altogether, city leaders looked at about 100 cost savings and revenue generating ideas and have implemented about two dozen so far.

Some are simple, like saving money on fax printouts to setting up fireworks permits online, to save on the cost of receipt books.

Other ideas are more significant, like increasing swimming pool admission fees, which would raise $45,000.

Traffic fines will also increase, bringing in an additional $203,000 each year. Police will also beef up collection of outstanding warrants.

"Broken Arrow is not unique, when you look at not only other cities, but private businesses that are cutting back on staff and doing more with less, and now we find ourselves in that situation," said Sterling.

The city hopes the measures will enable Broken Arrow to avoid layoffs until the economy recovers and sales tax collections rebound.

Complete list of items recommended and not recommended by the Broken Arrow City Council