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This article was archived on 6/20/2014

City Council Approves Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget

The Tulsa City Council approved the City of Tulsa fiscal year 2014-2015 budget on June 19. The budget totals about $688 million, down about 2 percent from the previous year.

After weeks of public meetings and listening to the concerns of citizens, the Council amended the budget to restore funding to transit and the arts. These programs were slated to be cut in the proposed budget.

Programs will be funded through increased revenues, mainly raised from fee increases: $100,000 from court fee increases and $667,000 from alarm fees. Additional revenue includes $20,000 from a Transit Matters donation and $8,000 in added revenue from the Henthorne Performing Arts Center.

Of this $795,000 increase in revenue, $250,000 will reestablish 57 crossing guard positions, $210,019 restores Tulsa Transit service hours and routes, $108,000 goes to keep Henthorne PAC doors open, $80,000 funds Tulsa's Main Streets programs and $146,981 is added to the unassigned fund balance.

"I am really proud of the direction we took on the budget: increasing certain fees while maintaining conservative projections. I appreciate everyone's hard work and effort in ironing out priorities. We've addressed issues as they came to us while still living within our means," Council Chair Karen Gilbert said.

 

The Tulsa Performing Arts Center, which was also on the chopping block, created a plan to raise the $260,000 it needed to keep six positions: $60,000 will come from a 50 cent increase in the $1 facility fee charged on each ticket, and $200,000 will be raised from deferring capital improvement projects to the PAC. The highest priority PAC capital projects will be funded from accrued savings in the 2001 Sales Tax program.

The $108,000 allocated to the Henthorne PAC funds the part-time employees needed to keep the facility and its Clark and Heller theater programs open for one more year.

"We really pulled together as a community to develop a conservative budget for the City. The Mayor set the foundation with his balanced proposal, and then the Council worked with grassroots volunteers to refine the budget in a way that protects school children and promotes the arts. We have positioned the City to spend the next year improving the quality of services instead of reducing them," Council Budget Committee Chair G.T. Bynum said.

 

In conjunction with the budget, the Council plans to adopt resolutions to express policy objectives relating to future budget priorities and funding of programs.

In the approved budget, the Council maintained the conservative 1 percent sales tax growth projection. Revenues coming in higher than projected for fiscal year 2015 will be added to the unassigned fund balance.

The Council approved funding for Main Street programs for one more year, and will create a resolution requesting those programs work to amend or establish a Business Improvement District for the purpose of funding the program in the future.

To avoid cuts to arts programs in the future, the Council plans to create a task force to look into other ways to fund the arts that involve the private sector.

The Council plans to vote on a resolution on June 26 establishing priorities for the unassigned fund balance. These priorities are in order of importance: to honor satisfactory performance increases for all city employees, to fund a new police academy and to reestablish a retiree health insurance subsidy. Revenue estimates will be reviewed quarterly.

"I am proud that the Council decided to use prudence in budgeting this year. Rather than hoping for income to cover expenses, we created a prioritization list that will only be funded if and when revenue is realized. We were conservative and careful with the taxpayers' monies, as we should be," Council Vice-Chair Phil Lakin said.

 

The Mayor's proposed budget, presented to the Council on May 1, already included significant reductions. The cuts occurred after fiscal year 2014 sales tax revenue totaled 1.2 percent, instead of a projected growth of 3.5 percent.

The Council did not increase the capital budget, beyond the $75,000 appropriated for the PAC from the 2001 Sales Tax program. The nearly $11 million increase from the proposed budget total of $673 million was a result of technical changes the city administration made on June 5 and June 12. The changes reclassified the library and zoo projects as a grant and a department expenditure, rather than internal transfers. Additionally, $1.3 million for a TMUA sewer project was added as well as other changes to the capital budget.

The changes to capital appropriations made by the Council for the Police Department records management system and downtown housing and retail were entirely off-set by deferring other appropriations, such as the finance computer system and operating capital.

The budget year begins on July 1.

View the entire budget here.

Budget Breakdown

Operating fund: $597.6 million

General fund (part of the Operating fund): $261 million

Capital fund: $90.4 million

Total budget: $688 million