Tulsa city council hammers out last minute budget issues

Tuesday, June 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The Tulsa City council on Tuesday talked out a few last minute adjustments to the budget, which is likely to be approved Thursday night.

An employee furlough is a key component, but wasn't mentioned in the discussion. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan updates the story.

With only 48 hours left to tinker with the numbers, the big decisions are done - and the council is now concerned mostly with details. Much discussion centered on the planned cut of a single job in the human rights department - that councilor Joe Williams says could decide his vote. Councilor Randy Sullivan wanted to make sure night court would keep running - a $13,000 item. And Councilor Bill Christensen wants the city to better manage employee overtime. "I think if we really looked into it, we would find there is a significant amount of overtime being paid that doesn't need to be paid."

But the furlough is such a certainty it wasn't even mentioned. Councilor Susan Neal, “We don't have a lot of leeway when 75 percent of the budget is tied up in personnel really the only cuts after a certain point is personnel.”

The mayor has asked employees to voluntarily take seven days off without pay. But few employees seemed eager to take up the offer and without volunteers - the furlough will be mandatory - the savings under the furlough are already figured into the budget numbers.

The furlough will compound the reduction in services because of other cuts. Councilor Sam Roop: "It may take a little bit longer to get things done, little things here and there." But Roop and his colleagues say more cuts may still be coming. "If we have to deal with the $8 or 9 million we're talking about, I don't see how we can not impact services in a substantial way, and we have to wrestle that again in August."

The first city mandated furlough day will be July 5th, the Friday after a holiday.