Mayor Dewey Bartlett announces $711.1 million budget proposal for 2014 fiscal year

TULSA - Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett unveiled a $711.1 million budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year Tuesday morning.

The total budget is set increase by .9 percent of $6.5 million, as of July 1, 2013, the start of the 2014 fiscal year. Bartlett, however, told the city council Tuesday the general fund of 267.1 million is 2 percent lower than fiscal year 2013.

Bartlett said the budget planning process hit two major obstacles -- the first being sale tax collections that dipped below 2012's numbers in two of last three months. This prompted a city hiring freeze, which will end at the close of the current fiscal year.

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The reduction on collection resulted in a second obstacle for the city -- supplementing $3.1 million in grants for police and fire that are set to expire next year. Another three million will have to be covered over the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years.  

Bartlett's proposal only anticipates a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenues, creating a flat budget for the 2014 fiscal year. However, the city will not be able to fund departmental requests that would increase programs or services.

"With insufficient revenues to totally replace the funding provided by the grants and one-time revenues, departments were asked to begin the difficult task of reducing expenses," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said "a very limited" number of positions would be impacted through abolishing or freezing positions and delaying new hires. He also said that no employee raises are in the proposed budget.

The proposal does eliminate any reduction in police and fire budget personnel and will allow department to hire cadets.

"When sales tax revenues increase, I am committed to putting those dollars into academies to increase our numbers of police officers in the field…" Bartlett said. "We can make some decisions now that will have a lasting impact on public safety in Tulsa over the years."

He plans to pursue a $0.167 sales tax extension to pay for more police and fire academies over the next five years.

Bartlett also stressed his continued efforts to see the third-penny sales tax extension and general obligation bond approved.

"I must remind everyone that the two-cent sales tax that is allocated to the general fund operations has remained unchanged for 30 years," he said. "In fact, our general fund budget has increased at an average on 1 percent annually over the last five years."

Bartlett recommended an increase in both sewer and water rates. He also recommended $95,000 go toward hiring a consultant to update Tulsa's economic development strategic plan.

2NEWS will have more details about the proposed budget at 5 and 6 p.m.

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