Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC to Cut 116 Staff Positions

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC to Cut 116 Staff Positions

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City will cut 116 staff positions, reduce street resurfacing and increase some fees for public services in a proposed $666.3 million fiscal 2002-03 budget presented to the City Council Tuesday.
The city's general fund budget, which covers much of the daily operations of the city, will climb by only 0.4 percent to $266 million, as many city departments trim costs across the board. The budget covers the fiscal year that begins July 1.
"I would describe it as a flat budget. There is basically no growth in the budget," said city Finance Director Cathy O'Connor.
City officials said a weakened economy that hurt tax revenues and rising fixed costs are largely to blame from the flat budget. The city imposed a hiring freeze and trimmed expenses after signs of soft revenues became apparent in December.
City Manager Jim Couch said the proposed budget would cut overall staff positions in the city by 116 positions. However, because the city has about 300 vacant positions due to the hiring freeze and normal job turnover, he said many of those who are laid off could be offered other jobs with the city.
Couch said the city's goal is to find a new position for any city employee who faces a layoff.
Taking the biggest hit will be the fire department, which will lose 34 positions under the new budget. The fire department will be reorganized into three divisions instead of four, and Fire Station No. 4 at 100 SW Fourth St. will be closed, under the proposal. The city said the service area covered by the fire station would be picked up by four surrounding fire stations.
Also taking a hit will be the Parks Department, which will lose the equivalent of 24 full-time positions under the budget proposal. The department will close community centers on Saturdays, due to low attendance, and scale back the hours some youth and non- specialty pools are open.
The police department will give up only one staff position in the new budget.
Overall, city staff positions will fall to 4,436 from 4,552 in the last fiscal year.
"This will be the lowest number of budgeted positions that we've had in 10 years," O'Connor said. "Just about every department had to eliminate some positions this year. …

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