Let There Be Light
Tulsa motorists will have to wait just a little bit longer before their highway lights are turned back on.
City officials have announced that expressway lighting that was turned off in Nov. 2009 to save $240,000 from the city's budget will be relit Sept. 1 -- nearly a month later than the original date a city official had targeted last month.
Dan Crossland, the city's deputy director of public facilities, told Urban Tulsa Weekly in July that the lights likely would be turned back on by Aug. 2. But that date came and went without lighting being resumed, and city officials issued a press release two days later announcing that the relighting had been set for Sept. 1.
Bob Bledsoe of the city's Communications Department said the reason for the delay was that Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. had been waiting for a report from the city's Finance Department on a leftover fund balance before authorizing expenditures for the resumption of such services as highway lighting and a police helicopter.
When that report was issued, it indicated the city had enough money to keep the lights lit for 10 months -- enough to fund their operation for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2011, if the lights were turned back on in September.
Two other factors played into the decision to delay the relighting of the expressway lights, Bledsoe said. Longer periods of daylight in August negated the need for expressway lighting to some degree, city officials believed. And once the original Aug. 1 target date was missed, the city chose to wait until Sept. 1 in order to accommodate the Public Service Company of Oklahoma, which prefers to have the lighting resumed at the beginning of a pay cycle, rather than in the middle, Bledsoe said.
Moving Up ... A Little
City officials got more good news last week with the latest sales tax collection report, which indicated that collections for mid July to mid August were slightly above last year's figure and higher than budget predictions.
According to the state Tax Commission, Tulsa received approximately $17.1 million in sales tax revenue for the period, compared to approximately $16.8 million for the same period last year, a 1.58 percent increase. The budget estimate for the period was approximately $16 million.
"It is always good to be over revenue budget predictions, but we still have an entire fiscal year left," Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. stated in a press release. "As we continue to restore certain services to the citizens from past budget reductions, we have to remain cautious on spending. We need to remember that within the next 12 to 18 months, more than $18 million to $20 million will be needed to cover one-time revenue sources that will expire in Fiscal Year 2012, as well as increased expenses in areas such as pensions and health benefits. We need to remain conservative in our spending in order to have sufficient funds to cover the costs of these ongoing expenses once the grants and other one-time allocations expire."
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