Proposed City of Tulsa budget for 2015 fiscal year eliminates 215 positions, 27 currently filled

TULSA -- Mayor Dewey Bartlett presented a proposed $673 million budget before the Tulsa City Council Thursday, which calls for the elimination of 215 positions. 

In a letter to city employees, Bartlett said his recommendations include eliminating 188 vacant positions and 27 filled positions in order to address a potential $17 million gap in the general fund.

"Without changes in our funding structure or establishment of more stable revenue sources, we must adjust the way we do business," Bartlett said during the presentation.

Bartlett said human resources is working with all employees that would be affected by the proposed layoffs.

The total budget number reflects the start of Improve Our Tulsa, which was passed by Tulsa voters in November.

The 4.1 percent shortfall from the 2014 budget was attributed to lower than expected sales tax revenue. City of Tulsa staff said residents shopping online and outside Tulsa city limits played a part in those numbers.

No police or fire academies are scheduled for the 2015 fiscal year, but Bartlett hopes to restore the academies in 2016. In the proposed budget, Bartlett asks for a dedicated for a public safety plan, with 2/10 of a cent of the expiring sales tax going toward a new police, fire and 911 center.

The City of Tulsa water and sewer and the street and stormwater departments are also looking to increase utility rates.

Click here  for the full 2014-15 proposed budget

In a letter to city employees Thursday afternoon, Bartlett said in part:

"This is a very tight budget, and we tried to have as little impact as possible on positions. The budget eliminates 188 vacant positions, but unfortunately also abolishes 27 filled positions. Human Resources and Department heads of those impacted are meeting today to discuss employment options in their departments and other areas of the city. With Council approval, these budget reductions would go into effect July 1, giving us two months to plan for those positions.

"We did not reduce expenses in all departments across the board, but we took a strategic approach. The general fund reductions vary from department to department. We will continue to negotiate with the collective bargaining units to find and agree on efficiencies in the police and fire departments.

"With this budget in place, I hope we are now beyond budget reductions so we can begin to redefine and refine our services and work activities."

If approved the budget reductions would go into effect July 1.

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