, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

November 14, 2013

After re-election, Tulsa's mayor faces budget problems again

TULSA (AP) — Newly re-elected Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett will start his second term almost the same way he did his first in 2009: with the city facing a budget shortfall and tough decisions about what cuts to make in city services.

Bartlett, a Republican, won another term Tuesday with 55 percent of the vote over Democrat Kathy Taylor — Bartlett's predecessor in office — to run Oklahoma's second-largest city for the next three years. Bartlett's new term begins next month.

The victory for the oil company executive came after a bruising campaign that saw the near-destruction of a political friendship that had been forged in recent years between Bartlett, 66, and Taylor, who outspent the mayor 3 to 1.

Bartlett, who is credited with steering City Hall through the recession and shoring up finances during his first term, faces a projected $6.4 million budget shortfall this go around — with potentially painful cuts possible to city services to make financial ends meet. But Bartlett vowed Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press that there will be no furloughs or layoffs of city workers to help erase the deficit.

"We've already done several things, like having a hiring freeze," Bartlett said. "We are in much better shape now than we were in in 2009. I don't want to say we have a lot of latitude, but we have a lot more money in the bank."

Bartlett said he'll submit a list of proposed cuts to the City Council by year's end outlining services he thinks Tulsa can do without or real estate it can unload for cash, but he declined to offer specifics.

"I don't want to telegraph too much, but we're continuing to develop that list to provide to the council," he said. "We're in a position now to where the public is on our side on this, and I think the council will see the opportunities (on the list) and I hope they will take them."

Councilor G.T. Bynum said conditions at City Hall are more favorable now to reaching accords on issues such as the budget — unlike the start of Bartlett's first term, when personality clashes with councilors were common.

"The difference is, he has a council in place that he has developed a working relationship with," Bynum said.

Taylor, whose spokeswoman did not return an email message seeking comment on Wednesday, said in her concession speech Tuesday night that she hoped the city could come together after the long political campaign.

"So, tonight we may have lost the vote, but I believe Tulsa won with the open and honest discussion we had about Tulsa's future," Taylor told supporters. "As you all know, I love Tulsa. I've loved it enough to have given a year of my life to demand accountability, to demand a safe city and an honest discussion on the very serious problems that face our city.

"I'm going to continue with you to build for the future," she told the crowd.


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