Mayor G.T. Bynum presented the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 - 2021 budget to the Tulsa City Council this evening based on the COVID-19 impact.
The total proposed budget is $828.5 million, which includes all city funds, operations and capital funding from Improve Our Tulsa and Vision Tulsa. This is a decrease of $26.1 million, or three percent less than the FY20 original adopted budget. The operating budget is $693.7 million, a $20M decrease, or 2.8 percent under the FY20 original adopted budget.
The general fund, which funds most core services and operations, is projected to have $256.6 million in revenue, which is down by almost $13M from the proposed budget expectations.
Economic projections indicate that FY21 may experience flat to low economic growth during the first half of the fiscal year. Due to the volatile nature of the economy from the pandemic, especially in the energy and manufacturing industries, the unemployment in Tulsa is expected to trend below the U.S. unemployment total. With regards to restaurant, hospitality and energy sectors, the full economic picture is not determined due to COVID-19 and the City is taking a conservative projection approach.
To meet a projected $13M budget shortfall, the general fund budget will draw on reserves from the Rainy Day Fund - $3 million will be used in FY20 to address projected revenues shortfalls this year, another half in FY21 and half of what remains in the FY22 plan. The FY21 budget also uses fund balance developed in the first three quarters of FY20 to stabilize the General Fund. In the current fiscal year, $6.6 million of fund balance will be used to offset unexpected lost revenue and in FY21, $9.3 million in fund balance will be utilized. To ensure the City’s reserves remain adequate to meet emergency needs, a $19.7 million operating reserve is preserved so the City is still able to respond quickly to unexpected natural disasters.
The FY21 budget includes expense reduction measures to ensure the City will maintain continuity of operations during a difficult economic cycle. Mayor Bynum already announced City of Tulsa non-sworn employees would be taking furlough days every Friday in half day increments from May-December to realize $4 million in savings, which totals 17 furlough days (13 days will be taken in FY21). The hiring and travel freeze for all positions funded by the General Fund and other sales-tax supported funds will also continue for FY21. There will no service level increases in FY21.
“In years past, the budget speech was about exciting new initiatives and opportunities for the City to better serve Tulsans, but today, the proposed budget speech is about one thing: working as a team to continue serving Tulsans at existing levels,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said. “With an overreliance on sales tax and in the midst of both a public health crisis and an energy industry crisis, we are only able to propose a budget that maintains existing service levels because of two things: our employees sacrificing their own pay, and elected officials saving when we could have spent - building up cash reserves for a time just like this.”
The Tulsa City Council will review and discuss the Mayor’s proposed budget and must approve a budget for the upcoming fiscal year at least seven days prior to June 30, the end of the City’s fiscal year. After the budget has been approved, Fiscal Year 20 -21 will begin July 1.
Mayor Bynum’s budget speech and the proposed FY21 budget can be found online at: www.cityoftulsa.org/budget