Even Moneymakers Prepare for Cuts Ahead of Tulsa Budget Presentation

Apr 24, 2014

Tulsa's city budget is due next week, and several councilors want to defend moneymaking departments from steep cuts. 

The planning department is already short-staffed, and Councilor Blake Ewing said cutting more from its funding will put Tulsa at an economic disadvantage. 

"Owasso just is like a baby city," Ewing said. "Its roads are newer in a lot of ways. Its buildings and infrastructure is newer, and so it has substantially fewer maintenance needs with a booming revenue."

The planning department reviews and approves building projects within the city and generates revenue from fees. It brought $7.2 million into the general fund last year.

The performing arts center is also among those departments anticipating the worst cuts before the budget is presented next week.

The PAC is asking for a 2 percent increase but expecting up to a 10 percent decrease. Director John Scott said many people don't realize their revenue goes into the general fund and doesn't come directly from ticket sales. 

"Let's say one of the big Broadway touring productions sells $1 million worth of tickets for each week of its three-week run here. The PAC doesn't see a dime of that," Scott said. 

The PAC's revenue comes from a combination of production rentals and fees charged when it sells tickets. It contributes an average of $1.5 million a year to Tulsa's general fund. 

In a budget committee meeting this morning, councilors G.T. Bynum, Skip Steele and Jeannie Cue also said they want to avoid cutting funding to city departments that generate revenue for the city. Councilors Karen Gilbert, Arianna Moore and David Patrick also attended the meeting. No councilors took an opposing position.