The city of Tulsa's leaner budget means less city services

Monday, May 5th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Balancing Tulsa's budget requires deep cuts that will cut into city services. News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the mayor is still explaining the budget he's offered for the next year - with cuts he says will affect every person in Tulsa.

Mayor Bill LaFortune: “The real bottom line is having to balance the budget, I had to present a budget to the council that was balanced.” The deepest cuts are in parks because they're considered a non-essential service. But every department at city hall will take about a 10% cut - and 1,000 employees will take a 2% pay cut. The forecast from city hall is that the budget probably will get a little worse before it gets better. This year’s budget plan is $25-million less than the projected budget just two years ago.

The budget back then was projected to be $216-million. In the years since, what the city projected - and what it actually got - has steadily dropped. This year the projection is down to $193-million.

The police chief says he can't keep enough officers on the street as it is, and with cuts it will only get worse. Tulsa Police Chief Dave Been, “Will we inconvenience the citizens? You bet. We won't be at the non-injury accidents, the burglary reports as fast, things of that nature, we'll use our telephone report offices more where an officer won't show up at the scene but people will be able to call for insurance purposes into a telephone office.”

To increase income - the city is raising sewer and storm water rates starting July 1st - the average bill will go up $1.20 a month. The mayor says this budget is a work in progress - as the city continues to look for places to make money and save money.

Despite all the budget cuts - the city will spend 76 million dollars this year to build and buy new things - items promised through sales tax votes, bought with money that cannot be re-directed into day-to-day operations.