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Oklahoma City Council Approves Second Round Of Mid-Year Budget Cuts

Oklahoma City skyline
Greater Oklahoma City Chamber and Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau
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Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)

The Oklahoma City Council approved mid-year budget cuts of more than $9 million dollars at its regular meeting Tuesday. The amendment is the city’s second cut this year.

Updated December 6, 1:50 p.m.

Sales tax revenue is projected to fall 2.6 percent this year, and City Manager Jim Couch says it's declined every month this year compared to the same month in 2015.

"We did receive the December sales tax check on Friday. It was not particularly positive," Couch said. "We think this is a measured response to that downturn in the sales tax dollars. There are cutbacks that will affect departments, but we think we've done a pretty good job of minimizing that."
 
The council discussed potential reasons for the dip in sales tax revenue. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid took aim at the state's policy for collecting sales tax from online purchases.

"I hope that the citizens of Oklahoma City can make that connection, between the loss of city services and how much everyone is shopping online," Shadid said. "This is the only state that cities can’t rely on property tax and income tax for services."

Ward 5 councilman David Greenwell suggested the state legislature take a new approach at having online retailers collect sales tax. Ward 4 councilman Pete White said the state needs to start cracking down on people who don't include sales taxes in their annual state tax filing.

Watch Tuesday's City Council Meeting. The Budget Reduction Conversation Begins at 1:05:49

Original post

This round of proposed cuts would offset shortfalls in sales tax and use tax collections. At stake are 39 positions. That includes 11 vacant police officer positions, and moving four resource officers out of schools.

Proposed personnel cuts:

  • 3 development services positions
  • 7 parks and recreation positions
  • 15 uniformed police department positions
  • 3 civilian police department positions
  • 5 public works positions
  • 6 general operations positions

The fire department would reduce overtime and limit on-call personnel when the weather permits, like on rainy days.
Oklahoma City budget director Doug Dowler says the city initially expected a revenue increase this year. Now, revenue projections are negative.

“We are looking at continued negative growth, less negative," Dowler said. "But continued negative for the next several months.”

At the meeting last month, city manager Jim Couch said while the cuts aren’t ideal, they are necessary.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFoAuZtPwu4  

"39 positions is not good, but it’s less than 1% of our workforce, "Coach said. "We think it’s a prudent step at this point because of the declining revenues that we have received. We hopefully think it’ll take us to the year’s end."

The city will vote on the $9.2 million cut at its regular meeting Tuesday morning.

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