OF FIREFIGHTERS LOCAL 176
For Immediate Release Contact:
October 8, 2013 Chad Miller
Mayor Bartlett’s "Budget Crisis" Claim Questioned by IAFF
Tulsa, OK – IAFF Local 176 members question Mayor Bartlett’s claims of a looming shortfall in the City of Tulsa budget and urge caution in his administration implying layoffs may be necessary in the coming months.
IAFF President Chad Miller cites comments made by City Manager, Jim Twombly, to the Tulsa World last Friday in which he stated, "a looming budget shortfall may force the city to consider layoffs or other substantial cost-saving measures…" During the economic recession the City of Tulsa issued 147 layoff notices to firefighters, says Miller. But the cause of the budget shortfall then was much different than now. The nation was in the troughs of the worst economic recession it has seen since the great depression and that obviously had a great impact on the amount of sales tax revenue the City received.
Today the national and state economies are rebounding nicely and sales tax collections in Tulsa are continuing on an upward trend. What has increased at an alarming rate is the City of Tulsa’s annual budget the last two years setting records as the largest ever in the history of our City. Mayor Bartlett wants to say we will live within our means but it is obvious he and his staff are not practicing what he preaches, says Miller, instead being hypocritical at best.
Mayor Bartlett refused to accept a $1.4 million federal grant in 2012 that would have allowed the Tulsa Fire Department to fund 15 new firefighter positions for two years. These grants, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, are available with no strings attached, requiring no match and no maintenance, which takes a significant fiscal burden off of communities. The grants provide full salaries and fringe benefits for two years. And just this year Mayor Bartlett refused to allow the Fire Department to even submit an application for the grant period for 2013. If the City of Tulsa is in such a financial crisis why would Mayor Bartlett be unwilling to explore every available option to assist the City, asks Miller.
Miller points out with a fully funded reserve of $16.7 million dollars and a newly established Rainy Day Fund with an additional $2 million the City is well resourced to meet any financial shortfalls without the need to threaten layoffs or other drastic measures.
The members of the IAFF share the concerns of our Brothers and Sisters of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 in questioning the antics of Mayor Bartlett and his staff concerning a proposed "crisis" and the threats of layoffs.