OHP troopers call headquarters with concerns about layoffs, furloughs

Thursday, May 1st 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers have flooded headquarters with questions about what projected budget cuts could mean to their job security.

Kevin Ward, assistant commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety, said troopers' specifically were concerned about possible layoffs and furloughs. Some troopers have been applying for jobs with police departments, Ward said.

Last week, Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks outlined for lawmakers what would happen if the agency took a 5 percent or 10 percent cut in its budget.

Ricks told a Senate appropriations subcommittee that a 5 percent reduction would force every employee, including troopers, to take 23 furlough days.

A 10 percent cut would cause a loss of 244 positions, including 152 troopers, 16 dispatchers and 17 other civilian positions, Ricks said.

The department already has seen $10.5 million in budget cuts this fiscal year, Ricks told the subcommittee.

Members of the subcommittee recommended a $4.50 increase in vehicle tag fees, generating about $15 million annually, to prevent the furloughs and layoffs.

In 2000, Oklahoma voters approved a new vehicle tag law that lowered fees for tags.

The base cost for a tag is $85 for vehicles 4 years old or less and $75 for vehicles 5 to 8 years old.

Those with vehicles 9 to 12 years old would pay $55 and it would cost $35 for vehicles 13 to 16 years old.

Those with vehicles 17 years or older will pay $15 for their tags.

Legislative leaders haven't ruled out an increase in tag fees, but they say the tag fee change in 2000 might prevent them from trying to raise the fees now.