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City government hiring freeze lifted as revenues recover

Oklahoma City's hiring freeze has been lifted, two years after it was imposed by City Manager Jim Couch.

In that time, the number of authorized positions in the city's budget has dropped by 99, from 4,743 to 4,644.

The hiring freeze took effect as city revenue, primarily sales tax collections, slipped along with the decline in oil-and-gas prices.

Sales tax revenue has now been on the upswing for seven consecutive months.

The city's budget director, Doug Dowler, said revenue is coming in on target and the city's consulting economists at Oklahoma City University "have given us preliminary information that indicates sales tax will continue to stay on track this fiscal year."

Oklahoma City voters agreed in September to extend the 1-cent MAPS sales tax for a crash program of street rehabilitation and to add a quarter-cent to the sales tax rate to hire more police officers and firefighters.

The MAPS for streets sales tax extension and quarter-cent increase for public safety take effect Jan. 1.

The additional raises the city's sales tax rate  above 4 cents for the first time, to 4.125 percent.

Adding in the 4.5 percent state sales tax, the overall rate in most of Oklahoma City will be 8.625 percent. The rate is higher in Cleveland and Canadian counties because they have a county-wide sales tax.

Since Oklahoma City's sales tax election in September, voters in suburban Midwest City and Del City have approved similar sales tax increases to expand their police and fire departments.

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William Crum

OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman. Read more ›