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City of Tulsa Expects to Come up $2.7M Short This Fiscal Year amid Sudden COVID-19 Downturn

Matt Trotter

Oklahoma is expecting a budget shortfall this year, and now so is the City of Tulsa.

Finance Director James Wagner said the latest sales and use tax distribution from the state is slightly above budget estimates but covers the period before the city’s safer at home order to limit the spread of COVID-19 took effect.

"We only have two months left in the fiscal year, but we think that the drop off in sales and use tax will be significant enough that we won’t meet our expectations by the end of the year," Wagner said.

Current estimates show the city will be about $2.7 million short of anticipated revenues. The city has a $6 million rainy day fund. It can use up to half the balance from that account and has some funding available carried over from last year.

"I think that will get us through the end of this fiscal year, and then next fiscal year is really where we’re going to have to start making some changes in the budget," Wagner said.

Wagner said plans to put more money toward shoring up the city pension system next year should still go forward. Mayor G.T. Bynum presents his proposed fiscal year 2021 budget to the city council next week.

Oklahoma cities count on sales and use tax as their primary source of operational funding. Current federal coronavirus relief plans do not cover lost local revenues.

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