The Oklahoma City 2021 budget proposal presents some changes which could result in fewer positions at the police department. The proposal states a reduction of salary which would eliminate 5 vacant police officer positions. Though it would save the department thousands of dollars, some say it's not the right move.
The first stage of the 2021 budget calls for changes in various departments, but for Oklahoma City police, it asks for a salary reduction and job cuts.
John George, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, believes the department needs these positions.
“That did concern me because a little over two years ago we passed a sales tax in Oklahoma City,” said George. “It was a promise to hire 129 more police officers and here we are later talking about potentially cutting five of these positions at a time we should be adding more officers every year still.”
The reduction would save the department over $400,000. The city manager said one reason they are looking to make cuts is the city is concerned about the downturn in the oil and gas industry.
“We've got a little more expenses than we do revenues is what we're projecting at this point,” said City Manager Doug Dowler. “We've asked departments to make reductions or to find efficiencies that they can save on their budgets.”
Dowler said police and fire are at a lower amount of reduction compared to other departments because of its importance to citizens. However, George said there are better ways to save money.
“I hope that it doesn't happen. this is the initial proposal, I mean the council ultimately has to look at this and make a decision themselves,” said George. “I hope that they find a decision themselves, I hope that they find a better way to cut $500,000 than cutting officer positions.”
Dowler said nothing is certain at this point and items on the proposal can change.
“Just because it's been proposed doesn't mean that's how it's going to end up at the end of the day,” said Dowler. “We do have a couple more months of sales tax to come in, things can get better from a revenue perspective.”
The proposal will be presented to city council on May 5 and the vote will be on June 9.