Mandatory furloughs may be needed by Tulsa city employees

Wednesday, June 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The City of Tulsa was banking on a voluntary employee furlough to help balance the budget, but not as many people volunteered as the mayor wanted.

News on Six reporter Emory Bryan says the mayor has asked all city employees - other than firefighters and police - to volunteer for seven days off without pay.

A form was circulated, for employees; with an optimistic ten blanks to list the days off desired. Well, many employees did not return these forms - and not nearly enough days off were requested. The furlough forms went to the rank and file of city employees - including many of those who directly deliver services to the public. Those on the front line of public safety cannot take furlough days - the police and firefighters are covered by union contracts that prohibit furloughs.

The Tulsa Department of Human Resources is still crunching the numbers, but the numbers so far show only half as much participation as the mayor had wanted. Mayor Bill Lafortune was unavailable to comment on how this low participation will affect the voluntary nature of the furlough.

The savings represented by full participation is already part of the budget, so the money has to come from somewhere - either more cuts elsewhere, or some sort of mandatory furlough for the employees who didn't volunteer. We have heard of one city employee who volunteered to take 49 days off without pay, but that is clearly the exception.

The mayor, as an elected official, is not subject to the furlough, regardless, but LaFortune has said he would donate seven days of his pay so it would hurt his personal budget as well.