City Of Bethany Discovers Nearly $4.5 Million Budget Shortfall, Cuts Possible
The City of Bethany has discovered an over $4 million shortfall in its budget, the result of what’s being called a bookkeeping error.
It was the topic of a special city council meeting held Tuesday night.
Oklahoma City based Crawford and Associates were hired to look into the problem. The company presented its findings to city council.
“Over the years we've went through different transfers from one fund to another and carry over and contingency funds,” said Bethany Mayor KP Westmoreland. “There were some mistakes made and that filtered into what we have had this year in a budget, and we need to fix it.”
It’s unclear when the discovery was made, however City Manager Bradd Brown has since placed a hiring and spending freeze.
Citizens had an opportunity to ask questions to council members. The biggest question remained unanswered, and that was how the city ended up in this situation.
“I think it could of been a thousand different things because there are a lot of moving parts in running a city and a municipality and the challenges that municipalities in the state of Oklahoma face,” said Westmoreland.
Simply raising utility fees or sales tax will not solve the problem.
Possible cuts may be looming.
“Nothing is off the table,” said Westmoreland. “We are discussing everything at this point because the number one priority is the health, safety and wellbeing of our citizens and our city.”
Crystal Davis was not surprised to learn about the city’s discovered financial woes.
“The numbers that were presented tonight just illustrates what I had believed all along,” said Davis. “That our spending was way above what our collections have been.”
With a water crisis already underway, it is the last thing residents wanted to hear. They hope this is a wakeup call.
“Take care of your people first, that is what makes Bethany so great,” said Davis.
City council voted in favor of a state audit Tuesday night.
Bethany's city manager said he believes no criminal activity took place.
The next city council meeting is scheduled for January 7.