Norman to cut services in order to avoid layoffs after $3.5 million budget shortfall

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NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) - The city of Norman is looking at ways to cut costs without cutting jobs while it deals with a $3.5 million budget shortfall.

City officials say the shortfall stems from a legal battle over how to spend money for North University Park development, as well as the city taking over buses that OU used to run.

The city unveiled a new budget that saves $2.3 million.

"Council said we don’t want to see a reduction in staffing, because each staff member we reduce is a reduction in the service we’re able to provide," Darrel Pyle said.

That includes services like mosquito spraying and cutting grass on medians. The Fourth of July fireworks show has also been scrapped, but officials say they're open to working with other organizations to make it possible.

A hiring freeze has been put in place. While no one is losing their job, it's not clear how many jobs would've been cut.

"We did not ask them to quantify that, but there’s no doubt we have saved jobs by our policy decisions," Councilman Joe Carter said.

The city is also dipping into the emergency fund. That's money that would have been used to help after storms, something Councilman Stephen Holman doesn't feel comfortable with.

"I would feel much better if we got to June first before we talked about disaster funding, that type of thing, once the real heavy storm season is up," he said. The budget savings are supposed to last the city [until] the end of the fiscal year in June. For the next fiscal year, they will still have to find ways to save $1.5 million.

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