Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Oklahoma City instituting budget reductions for fiscal 2021
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Oklahoma City is reducing general fund spending for fiscal 2021, with police and fire ordered to cut 3.3% from their adjusted base and other departments 11.25%, a significant reduction from previously announced rollbacks.
The Finance Department estimate is general fund revenue will be about $35 million, or around 7.2%, lower than originally expected in fiscal 2021. No furloughs are planned and few, if any, layoffs anticipated.
“The COVID-19 pandemic’s economic effects have already been substantial. It’s the start of a very difficult period for our local economy,” Doug Dowler, the budget director, said in a written statement.
“Departments are working on revised budgets until later this month, so we don’t have a clear picture yet of the impact on staff or services," he said. "We’ll do the best we can to limit the impact on services we provide as we prepare for a new economic reality.”
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City Manager Craig Freeman will formally propose the reductions to the city council May 26. The council is to adopt the 2021 budget June 9.
City government has budget reserves of around 21%, "so we're not in a cash crunch," Dowler said. With more than 400 vacancies, the workforce can absorb reductions in authorized positions without, in most cases, a need to resort to layoffs.
Freeman ordered a hiring freeze March 23, contributing to the cushion.
City department heads earlier had been directed to plan for reductions in 2021 to their adjusted base budgets, in response to a slowing economy, but were told to maintain service levels.
There is no pretense this time about shielding the citizenry from a share of the pain.