The Norman Transcript


June 12, 2013

City budget slashed further



Last-minute cuts to the proposed FY 2014 budget also drew debate.

City staff brought forward those budget cuts in response to Castleberry’s request. A certified public accountant, Castleberry voiced strong concerns about the continued use of the general fund to balance the budget for the past several years.

City Manager Steve Lewis said the additional cuts should not affect essential services but other revenue sources are needed to boost the general fund in the long term.

Castleberry said if more money comes in, these items could be reinstated.

“I think you have to live within your means,” Castleberry said.

The items cut Tuesday night will be reviewed in September. Some services that will be reduced include asphalt for street improvements, contracted street sweeping and professional training for city staff.

In some cases, these additional cuts may be appropriate. Public Works Director Shawn O’Leary said a $30,000 cut to the electricity allowance for street lights will be offset by electric savings created by the city’s installation of LED lights.

The budget cut package proposed trimming $1,200 from money that would normally go to the Firehouse Arts Center. Other cuts included Sooner Theatre, tree maintenance, youth baseball and other parks and recreation accounts.

In most cases, these cuts represent only a portion of funding, but in 20 percent of the line items, those items will be cut completely.

Castleberry said he will donate his $100 monthly council salary to Sooner Theatre and the Firehouse to make up the difference.

“Our total revenue has gone up every year,” Castleberry said, citing figures through the recession years. All revenue is not sales tax. Unfortunately, spending has increased even more than revenue, he said.

“We started with $12 million in our savings pot,” Castleberry said. “Now it’s down to $3 (million).”

The council approved cutting $478,829 in general fund services and maintenance and supply and materials categories in an 8-1 vote, with Jungman dissenting.

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