Deep cuts in the city of Tulsa's Park Department

Tuesday, May 13th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

They're cutting more than the grass at Tulsa Parks - where another budget cut threatens to close down some popular programs. News on Six Reporter Emory Bryan has the update.

Paula Sanders, her husband and a friend all volunteer to help the parks department - which is why they came to see the city council discuss the nitty gritty of the budget. Paula Sanders, Waterworks volunteer: "With all the budget cuts we've been told to put all this on standby.” The council is being asked to approve a 12% cut for parks. The land itself doesn't require much money to maintain - it's the extra features like recreation centers that need staff to stay open.

The parks budget this year is $18.7-million - next year - it's probably going to be $16.5 - a cut of $2.2-million. That kind of rollback means cut will come in almost every program - though not at every park. Some recreation centers will close - but others will stay open even longer. And there will not be any organized effort to save the swimming pools like there was last year.

The department plans to close 18 pools - and open only 4 this summer. It will reduce hours at splash pads - and is already charging higher fees on golf courses. And the city hopes volunteers will take over some jobs eliminated from the payroll. Mary Ann Summerfield, Parks Dept Director: “And the staff members are going to be moving, consolidating programs to keep the programs we have available to the community if it's things they want and enjoy.”

The arts programs are threatened because they're popular with only a few people - but they have the backing of the mayor, who wants some arts programs regardless. Either way - everything will be cut - some to the bare bones.

The city council has until late June to make changes - but if they add money to one program - they have to make cuts elsewhere.