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Oklahoma City Council passes $952 million budget with eye on future Sunday bus service

The Oklahoma City Council voted 8-1 on Tuesday to approve a $952 million budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1. The dissenting vote came from Councilman Ed Shadid, who wanted to add Sunday bus service in the city now, but other council members said they want further study first.
BY SARAH BOSWELL and MICHAEL KIMBALL Published: June 13, 2012

The Oklahoma City Council approved a $952 million budget Tuesday for the next fiscal year, the largest in city history, but its members postponed a decision on the only item of debate.

The 2013 budget, which takes effect July 1, includes 85 new city jobs, the biggest jump since the recession started, and reflects economic growth in the city over the past year.

It doesn't include Sunday bus service by Metro Transit, which has been something asked for by a series of people, including some with disabilities, during budget meetings in recent weeks.

“Probably the only issue in this budget that's been publicly discussed, debated, pleaded for, is Sunday bus service,” Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid said. “Are you aware of any city in America of our size and our budget — $900 million — that has no public transportation on Sundays? Any city with an NBA team?”

Ultimately, city staff and the council agreed to conduct an in-depth study about investment in Sunday bus service and other transit issues soon. But not soon enough for Shadid, who registered the sole dissenting vote in passing the 8-1 budget because it didn't include discretionary spending on Sunday service now.

Operating costs

Nearly $600 million of the total budget is for the city's operating expenses, and more than half of that is public safety spending on the police and fire budgets. The rest is largely spending on capital projects such as MAPS 3 and general obligation bond programs.

Fifteen of the 85 new jobs are police officer positions, and 12 are jobs in street maintenance, reflecting Oklahoma City residents' long-held desire for more police officers and better roads.

For transportation, the city provides about half the budget for the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority, which operates Metro Transit buses and parking garages. Federal money and bus and parking revenue make up most of the rest.

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