Tulsa city officials Feel Impact of Budget Woes

TULSA, Okla. – City of Tulsa sales tax revenues were in a historic decline when Mayor Dewey Bartlett took office. The only option for the city was to cut expenses in the general fund to balance the budget. Bartlett stated that all departments should share in the cuts, including the Mayor’s office.

Shortly after taking office, Bartlett and his staff began reviewing expenses that could be reduced. Two staff members who had been working with the Taylor adminstration left the City’s employment when Bartlett brought in his own staff.

The mayor is permitted to hire 16 at-will or appointees to his staff. While knowing a 4.4 percent reduction would need to be made, Mayor Bartlett chose to leave four at-will (appointed) positions open. In addition, office supplies and other expenses reduced the mayor’s budget by an additional 6.5 percent.

Mayor Bartlett has agreed to take an 8.5 percent personal salary reduction and Terry Simonson, Chief of Staff has agreed to a 5 percent personal salary reduction as well. Other members of the staff are not obligated to take a salary reduction, but would have taken pay cuts if the AFSCME union had voted to take salary reductions instead of layoffs.

Meek, but Stable Reserve Available
As of Dec. 31, 2009, the City of Tulsa general fund reserve balance was $2.5 million. If the savings anticipated from the Fire Department reorganization is not realized, the Mayor’s Office committed $1.2 million of the reserve to the Fire Department. That amount could increase if the savings are lower than expected. The reserve will not be exhausted as 5.76 percent of the general revenues are deposited into the reserve on a monthly basis.

The reserve was not part of the with the fire department for the reduction of expenditures as voted on by the fire union members. However, the portion of the reserve used to fund the Fire Department shortfall this year will be recovered through attrition savings next year.

An agreement was also reached with the leadership to allow its membership to vote on the mayor’s proposal to keep 155 police officers or take a 5.2 percent salary cut with some concessions. The agreement was voted down, and on Friday of last week 155 police officers received lay-off notices. Through MOU’s between the City and the , retirements and resignations took place, rescinding 31 police lay-off notices, bringing the total police officer lay-offs to124. The police union received a similar proposal to the Fire Department in the following areas: length of agreement, salary savings and savings from furloughs.

For non-sworn employees, the option was between a 5.2 percent salary cut or lay-offs. Although job classification including: Administrative and Technical, Airport Officers, Office Technical, Emergency Communicators and Labor and Trades are included in the AFSCME union, all non-sworn employees, including exempt or unclassified positions had the opportunity to vote for either layoffs or a salary reduction.

AFSCME non-sworn employees voted for layoffs and Mayor Bartlett said he would agree to their opinion poll. Instead of issuing all non-sworn employees (including Mayor’s Office staff) a 5.2 percent salary cut, layoffs began to occur referring back to each 4.4 percent department reduction submissions. 59 non-sworn employees were laid off, but currently only 30 of the 59 have been laid off due to retirement and the “bumping” system.

Updated 02-04-2010

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