2NEWS Investigators uncover increases in consultant cost and travel

Bartlesville is known for the Price Tower, Woolaroc and according to the city manager, the Adams Municipal Golf Course.

"It's a treasure. It brings tourism to the city of Bartlesville," said Bartlesville City Manager, Ed Gordon.

Gordon says the city needs the tourism due to a lagging city budget.

Bartlesville is down seven employment positions, including three police officers and three firefighters.

Budgets have been tight.

As for the golf course, "It's supported by the rates we charge for people who play golf, memberships on an annual basis, those who come in on a daily basis," said Gordon.

But this past year, the players didn't turn out. Gordon says a bad winter and wet summer were not par for the course.

The golf course took in $300,000 but had $450,000 in expenses.

"We had to increase the transfer out of general fund to absorb that," said Gordon.

The general fund he's referring to pays police and fire salaries. This year, $150,000 from the general fund went to cover tee times.

"It's a quality of life issue. The golf course has been an intregal part of the City of Bartlesville," Gordon said when asked if he felt that was a good use of taxpayer money.

The 2NEWS Investigators examined the 150-page Broken Arrow budget. BA is also holding off on hiring when there's an opening.

"We are simply holding that for a few months to provide additional cushion in our existing budget," said Broken Arrow City Attorney Beth Anne Wilkening.

While hiring is on hold, the travel budget for Broken Arrow went up by 15 percent compared to actual costs last year, going from $161,000 to $193,000.

But the city attorney says that increase is really just wishful thinking and probably won't be used.

"A lot of that is going to be dependent upon whether we see an increase in sales tax revenue," said Wilkening.

The final city we examined took the biggest hit. Tulsa's City Manager, Jim Twombly, says Tulsa had a $17 million shortfall.

"We did cut a lot of departments pretty deeply," said Twombly. It cut 141 jobs and is delaying some services.

The 2NEWS Investigators dug into the 700-page budget. Consultant costs stood out.

The city budgeted $1.2 million for consultants this year, that's up from $800,000 last year, a 50 percent increase. A good use of taxpayer money?

"It really depends. Again, on what area we're talking about. There are many ongoing things that we do where we use consultants," said Twombly.

Twombly says consultants provide an expertise that the city doesn't have and that can save money in the long-run.

Then there's parking. The City of Tulsa budgeted $255,000 to subsidize employee parking for downtown.

Twombly says it's an expense they've talked about cutting, but have concerns about City Hall after dark.

"Employees come and go from this building all hours of the day and night, so safety is another consideration," Twombly said.

The 2NEWS Investigators are examining other city budgets as well. If there's something you'd like us to look into send us an e-mail at news@kjrh.com .

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