TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum presented his proposed 2020 city budget on Wednesday night.
“This budget follows through on the goals established by the city council and me: more cops so we can truly implement community policing, better compensation so we can recruit and retain the best public servants and cash reserves to protect against the inevitable financial downturn. It illuminates and cleans up our neighborhoods, and it makes Tulsa more business friendly,” Bynum said.
In a statement, the city says it expects modest growth in the general fund for the upcoming fiscal year, "but meaningful investments were made possible by department leadership, which allowed for the reallocation of resources for compensation and benefit increases, including starting pay increases for new employees within the fire and police departments and at least a 10 percent increase for labor and trades employees."
The $850 million proposal focuses on multiple areas, including highlights like:
· Tulsa police hiring – Addition of 90 new police officers.
· Firefighter academy – Funds 25 firefighter cadets to counter attrition and keep staffing steady.
· Office of the Independent Monitor (OIM) will be funded and Independent Monitor will be hired by January 1, 2020.
· Housing Opportunity Partnership (HOP) – As part of this budget, the City will create a new program to address vacant and abandoned houses and create opportunities for homeownership.
· Animal welfare – Pays for increased field coverage and extended shelter hours, following the Animal Welfare Reform Plan.
· Development services – Pays for the increase of staffing to make improvements in the development and building process by improving the average response time for initial building plan reviews from five weeks to five days.
· AERO Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) – Will launch new AERO BRT route this summer, including free rides for a month.
· Neighborhood street lighting – Lifts 2009 moratorium and funds backlog of 500+ neighborhood street lights to improve safety in Tulsa communities.
· Economic development and community development strategic planning process – Will hire a consultant to create a strategic plan that will help modernize and interconnect the following work groups for the benefit of the community.
o Mayor’s Office of Economic Development (City Department), Community Development and Policy (City Division), Tulsa Development Authority (TDA), Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA), Tulsa Parking Authority (TPA), Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA), Economic Development Commission (EDC).
· Performing Arts Center –Transfers management of the Performing Arts Center to the Performing Arts Center Trust, mirroring Glicrease Museum and Tulsa Zoo management agreements.
· Tulsa Parks Department –Will provide equipment and staff to properly fund the Chamberlain Recreation Center in the north Tulsa community. This budget will also boost parks maintenance and operational and capital needs while adding programming and community engagement personnel.
· Mowing cycles – This budget will keep the City of Tulsa full eight mowing cycles in place.
· Utility rates – Water rate increase for water is 1 percent, less than the rate of inflation, the city says. Sewer and stormwater rates will increase by 9 percent, as leaders are committing to funding the cost of delivering service over time with the anticipation of rates decreasing similar to water rates.
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