Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday to pass a resolution of official support for mass-scale COVID-19 testing, distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) and federal help for municipalities facing a sharp decline in revenue.
At least 37 deaths in Oklahoma City have been attributed to the coronavirus as of May 12, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). The Council resolution calls for testing, PPE and federal relief to help local recovery.
Read the resolution here.
The Council supports mass-scale national testing that starts with all first responders, health care workers, people over age 60, residents of long-term care facilities and people with compromised immune systems, then everyone else. Testing would help identify local spread, and benefit contact tracing and self-isolation efforts.
The resolution’s call for increased production and distribution of PPE to help testing staff, first responders and health care workers on the front line.
The Council also supports federal legislation that allows U.S. government emergency relief funding for local governments to help offset the pandemic’s profound effect on revenue. Current federal relief programs for cities restrict funding to direct costs of the pandemic, but those expenses are dwarfed by the expected economic impact on sales tax revenue.
Oklahoma is the only state in the U.S. that prohibits municipalities from using property tax revenue for operational expenses. Cities in Oklahoma are disproportionately reliant on sales tax compared to those in other states, and sales tax is historically less stable than property tax revenue.
The Finance Department estimates the City’s General Fund operating revenue will decline by $35 million in the next fiscal year. The City Manager is preparing budget cuts of 3.3% for the Police and Fire departments and 11.25% for all other General Fund departments, and will formally propose them to the Council on May 26.
Federal legislation could potentially allow the use of already appropriated COVID-19 disaster relief funding for operational revenue shortfalls, or include that capability in a future aid package.
Visit covid19.okc.gov for the latest local COVID-19 news, guidance and City services updates.