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City of Tulsa Will Furlough Employees to Deal with Anticipated Budget Drop

Matt Trotter

Updated April 17, 2:10 p.m.

The City of Tulsa will furlough around 1,000 employees for half-days every Friday beginning May 3 through the end of 2020.

Mayor G.T. Bynum said high unemployment and low oil prices are expected to cause a dramatic drop in sales tax collections, the city's only source of operating funds.

Much like during last year's spring storms when the city decided to warn people to brace for a flood event on par with 1986, officials decided it would be best to prepare now for the worst-case scenario.

"Well, in this case, for us the worst-case recent scenario is the Great Recession of about 10 years ago. And so, that’s what we’re planning for at the City of Tulsa," Bynum said.

City officials expect to tap a $6 million rainy day fund to offset an estimated $2.7 million shortfall in the current fiscal year. Based on current projections, however, the city’s general fund will be down $12 million next fiscal year.

Bynum said steps like a hiring and travel freeze will not be enough.

"We will be taking the equivalent of a 10% pay cut over the next several months going into December," Bynum said, adding he and his staff will take the same cut in pay.

The furloughs will save the city an estimated $4 million.

To the extent possible, city facilities, including city hall and Tulsa Municipal Courts, will close Fridays at 1 p.m., starting May 8.

Emergency personnel, water and sewer crews, and trash collectors will not be affected by the furloughs because they are not paid out of the general revenue fund.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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