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As Comments Call for Reallocating Funds, Tulsa City Council Adopts Budget with Small Police Increase

Matt Trotter

City councilors adopted Tulsa’s budget for fiscal year 2021, which spends 3% less overall but boosts police spending by about 0.7%.

The budget is down amid projections of lower sales tax revenue because of the recession. The city has implemented several cuts, including half-day furloughs of employees each Friday.

The $828.5 million total budget also raises sewer and stormwater rates.

The city received dozens of comments on the budget over the past two weeks, many of them calling for some police funding to be reallocated to boost spending on things like mental health and housing.

Before the vote on the budget, Councilor Crista Patrick said councilors are listening to what people are saying, and she echoed words often said about budgets by her late father, Councilor David Patrick.

"It’s just a plan, and it can be changed every day," Crista Patrick said.

City officials say the city is spending about $113 million total on an array programs related to mental health, housing and education in fiscal year 2021.

Councilor Phil Lakin said he expects the fiscal year 2022 budget will be different as policies form to fix disparities identified in the Equality Indicators report.

"I know that isn’t soon enough for some people, but I really do believe that the policies that will come through that work, through that hard work that we’ve all invested in — not just councilors, but the community as well — you’ll start to see the product of some of those conversations," Lakin said.

The budget does not include funds for an independent police oversight office, but officials say those can be added if an agreement is reached.

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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