The Oklahoma City Council wants a little more time to decide if or how to spend a newly discovered surplus $1.3 million for next year's budget.
The council voted Tuesday to wait at least another two weeks before making a decision on the extra $1.3 million, a last-minute projection based off recent tax receipts revealed soon after the council voted last week to approve next year's budget.
Council members considered whether to spend the money on adding Sunday service on Metro Transit buses, adding an additional 20 police patrol officers to the dozen new officers already included in next year's budget, along with other options. But council members didn't want to rush into a decision.
“I feel concerned that we really haven't had the opportunity to be strategic in our thinking about how we might spend this additional (money),” Councilwoman Meg Salyer said. “The timeline was fairly short.”
The council voted last week to approve a $952 million budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July.
The sole dissenting vote against the budget last week was cast by Councilman Ed Shadid, who said he couldn't vote for a budget that doesn't include Sunday bus service. Several people pleaded for Sunday bus service during a series of budget meetings, and the only Oklahoma City residents who spoke at Tuesday's meeting also advocated for Sunday service.
The council was unanimous in declaring a desire for Sunday service of some kind, whether it comes from regular Metro Transit bus service or an expansion of Metro Link, the city's existing — and very limited — Sunday public transit service.
But most council members were wary of giving more money to a transit service the city openly acknowledges is inefficient. A majority of council members want to study whether the transit system can be redesigned to be more efficient in order to pay for Sunday bus service without new spending, and to study whether any new spending on transit would be better used on something other than a Sunday service few people will use.
“The numbers that have been suggested for Sunday ridership are extremely low,” Salyer said.