Oklahoma City Sales Tax Collections Down 15 Percent
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A new report shows city sales tax revenues on a downward spiral, and that could have a negative effect on the city's fire and police departments.
Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and members of the city council are discussing the new figures Tuesday. The report stated November sales tax collections are 15 percent below target.
For the year, the shortfall equals nearly $12 million the city was counting on.
The report suggested Oklahoma City hasn't reached the bottom yet and may not see significant recovery until the middle of next year.
City manager Jim Couch delivered the budget shortfall news during Tuesday morning's city council meeting.
"This is the 9th month where sales tax collections have been below last year's collections," Couch said. "Until that turns around, we're going to have to address that."
To do that, last month the city ordered all departments to submit a proposal for 2 percent in reductions. The proposals are now being looked over by the city manager and will be given to the city council next month.
"Our hope is on the civilian side. We're pretty confident we won't have any layoffs that we can move people into other positions. On the uniformed side, depending on how far we need to go, it could mean layoffs. People in recruit school or on the job could lose their job," Craig Freeman, Oklahoma City Budget Director.
Mike Kelly is with the Oklahoma City Firefighter's Union and said he has seen the proposal the fire department has suggested. He said he's concerned fire service to citizens could be affected by the cuts.
"There's a reduction in staff of seven civilian and 40 firefighter positions. Of those 40 firefighter positions, 11 they term currently vacant and 29 are actively filled positions," Kelly said.
Meanwhile, the city said these hard decisions are the result of the worst fiscal year they've seen in thirty years.
"When we cut our budgets, the majority of the time it's going to be people and that's results in the reduced services," Couch said.
The Oklahoma City Police Department wouldn't comment on whether any jobs will be lost at the department until the December 15th city council meeting.
Once the 2 percent cuts are official, they'll go into effect January 1st.
Couch said he doesn't think those cuts to be the last. He said he expects even more when the next fiscal year begins in July.