Trimming down Tulsa's city budget

Thursday, April 25th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The trimmed down version of Tulsa's city budget begins to take shape. News on Six reporter Emory Bryan explains.

The mayor and council are dealing with budget problems on two fronts - a shortfall for the current budget year - and less money to divide up for the next year.

It's a curiosity of city finances that budget cuts result in the grass not being cut. The city is delaying mowing this year - to save money on seasonal expenses. It's one of the few visible cuts in city government as a shortfall puts the squeeze on city services.

The city has already saved $11.3 million - but has $5.7 million left to cut to resolve this years $16 million budget shortfall. One possible source of money is a contingency fund for the widening of Yale from 71st to 81st. The $10 million plan has a $2 million cushion in case it runs over budget - but several councilors worry the lack of a cushion could jeopardize the project. "The actual design work and the projections could have changed in the last seven years." And council chair Randi Miller worries a failed project would erode confidence in the third penny sales tax. The mayor considered pulling the money - but dropped the idea because of the councilors objections.

And while this year's budget has to be cut - the mayor has until next Tuesday to create the budget for next year. Mayor Bill LaFortune: "The new mayor has less than a month to come up with a budget to submit so what I have to do is go off the numbers that exist now, and as for campaign pledges that I'll trim the fat and find areas of bureaucracy, that's more of a long term project and we have a team in place to do that."