Council Members Review Proposed Budget
By John Durkee
Tulsa, Oklahoma – Last week, we heard from Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor as she presented her proposed city budget to the Tulsa Council.
After a week to review, today, we hear from two members of the council. Both have concerns about the Mayor's $578 spending plan.
Both, Rick Westcott and Bill Christiansen, have concerns about the public safety aspects of the budget. The Mayor is calling for a new police academy, but Westcott says that is not enough. He says the academy class will not off-set the department's attrition rate. Christiansen agrees saying 26 retirements are expected, but the academy will only graduate 20 recruit.
The councilors differ on the Mayor's plan to use a federal stimulus grant to pay for the salaries for new police officers. Christiansen says the additional officers will mean less overtime and more savings. Westcott, however, calls it "a ticking time bomb" ready to explode in three years when funding runs out. He says the only option will be to fire the officers when the city can no longer pay for them.
Christiansen wonders if more lay-offs, than the 17 proposed by the Mayor should take place. He is opposed to forcing a four-day furlough on public safety officers. Westcott would rather seek volunteers prior to making the furloughs mandatory.
Christiansen and Westcott are only two of the nine council members who will decide the budget. It must be in place by July 1, when the city's new fiscal year begins.