On June 17th, 2020, The Tulsa City Council unanimously approved the City of Tulsa Fiscal Year 2020-2021 budget based on the COVID-19 impact.
The total budget is $840.4 million, which includes all city funds, operations and capital funding from Improve Our Tulsa and Vision Tulsa. This is a decrease of $14.1 million, or 1.6 percent less than the FY20 adopted budget. The operating budget is $705.1 million, an $8.6 million decrease, or 1.2 percent under the FY20 adopted budget.
The general fund, which funds most core services and operations, is projected to have $256.7 million in revenue, which is down by almost $12.8 million from the FY20 adopted budget.
“This was an especially difficult budget to pass due to multiple crises in our society happening right now,” Council Chair Ben Kimbro said.
“Industry and the economy have been crippled by a pandemic while society continues to struggle against racism. But the budget is not just a seasonal effort, it requires hard work and diligence throughout the year.”
During its Budget and Special Projects Committee meeting earlier in the day, the Council had an in-depth discussion on how the City is addressing mental health, housing and education issues financially. The full budget discussion can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/budget-discussion. More details on these budget highlights can be found here: https://bit.ly/budget-info.
The highlights include items from the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget and some non-lapsing grants and capital funding that carry over from year to year.
About $2 million funds mental health and well being through a variety of initiatives like the Community Intervention Center, Tulsa Sobering Center, A Better Way program and personnel and programs to help victims of sexual assault or domestic violence. This is in addition to routine dispatch and response for mental health instances and other administrative and overhead costs for front-facing departments.
About $54 million is being invested in programs like the Choice Neighborhoods partnership to transform the Eugene Field neighborhood into the River West community centering on sustainable mixed-income housing, to housing development and down payment assistance and the Working in Neighborhoods’ (WIN) Homeowner Rehabilitation Program. These initiatives are in addition to the City’s building and zoning code review and support, administration and overhead.
Prior to 2016, the City played a minor role in actively supporting education. Mayor Bynum and the Council took an initial step in providing a legal framework for educational support in December 2016, passing a resolution declaring that support for public education and public education institutions is a “public, municipal purpose.” This resolution provided a clear path for the City to directly support educational institutions, both financially and through the work of staff.
Current areas of support include about $58 million for personnel like school crossing guards at 45 locations, funding for the Langston University Health Care Training Facility and funding the Public Schools Teacher Attraction, Retention, and Training initiative to support and stabilize the teaching workforce in Tulsa.
The Council will continue its Equality Indicators Initiative, which was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, with its next meeting on June 24.
The Equality Indicators Report is a partnership between the City of Tulsa and the Community Service Council to produce an annual report which uses data to establish a statistical baseline for understanding inequity in Tulsa. The Council’s Equality Indicators Initiative aims to improve transparency, share information and find potential solutions to items highlighted in the report’s theme of justice. More information is available here: http://tulsacouncil.org/resources/council-equality-indicators-initiative/
The outcomes and findings from this work will be incorporated into the next year’s budget, while the Council plans to continue working together with the Mayor throughout this year to discuss budget goals and priorities.
An enacted fiscal year budget is the City’s financial blueprint, or spending plan, for the year. However, it is a plan that changes almost weekly through appropriations and other measures. The Council must approve any change that totals more than $100,000. These changes will appear on the Council’s regular business agenda for review and vote. The Council provides avenues for public input on all items before voting and is currently accepting comments through email and voicemail to ensure public safety during the pandemic. More information on how to submit public comments is available here: http://tulsacouncil.org/public-comment/
To view the City Council meeting about the budget, click the video below.