Tulsa mayor: No police or fire layoffs coming despite city’s strained budget

Tulsa mayor: No police or fire layoffs coming despite city’s strained budget
FILE - Police patrol cars (FOX23)

TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum said this week that the city’s budget remains strained because of a dip in revenue linked to the economic downturn, but he said police and fireman will not be laid off like they were during the Great Recession.

Bynum said heavy cuts have been made to the budget in addition to non-sworn employees taking pay cuts as a way to reduce city expenditures.

The furlough for non-sworn city employees ended last Friday, and the mayor said there was no need to implement another round of half-day Friday furloughs.

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Non-sworn employees are those who are not police and fireman and have not sworn to protect the City of Tulsa.

The downturn in revenue is linked to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Fewer people are shopping for goods and eating out, and some businesses have closed, meaning some families have less discretionary income if any. The State of Oklahoma only allows cities to fund themselves through limited means, most through sales tax collections.

Without even knowing a pandemic was coming, state lawmakers began to collect sales taxes for online purchases as more people began shopping for things off of websites instead of physical brick and mortar businesses. Had the law not been changed a few years ago, it’s likely sales tax collections would’ve been at record lows when many things were shut down as elected leaders and public health officials tried to figure out how we could live life while COVID spread without a vaccine or anyone immune to the virus.

Though the budget is strained greatly, Bynum said no one is talking about layoffs in any department right now to balance the budget at this time, and he wants to avoid them in any way he can.