The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 8, 2014

Towns assemble budgets

ENID, Okla. — Area city officials are working on budgets for next fiscal year, as the current year ticks down to an end on June 30.

A budget was approved Tuesday for the city of Watonga, and proposed budgets are expected to be considered over the next two weeks in other communities.

The Watonga City Council approved a $2,441,025 General Fund expense budget and a $3,881,278 Utility Authority expense budget, according to Dacia Phillips, a CPA at RSMeacham CPAs and Advisors, a company that handles the budget for Watonga.

Plans for the 2014-15 fiscal year include funding 10 percent of the cost for perimeter fencing at the town’s airport, about $50,000 in street overlay projects and purchasing a vehicle for animal control and a vehicle for the electric department.

“Everything else, we’re just going to have to wait and see how our sales tax comes in. There were more requests than that, we’re just going to have to wait and see,” Phillips said.

A 2 percent cost-of-living raise for employees also is included in the budget.

“It was just the 2 percent raise because our health insurance, we were just told last night, the city portion increased by 15.7 percent,” she said.

Proposed budgets are expected to be considered today in Medford and Kingfisher.

In Medford, proposed city projects include the replacement of some downtown sidewalks, new heat and air units in the civic center building, a police car and perimeter fencing at the airport, according to City Manager Dea Mandevill. She said another goal is to have a camera system installed at various city facilities, along with some Wi-Fi hotspots.

“The biggest project that we’ll be doing this year is a street overlay, and it’s around $700,000, which will be the largest street project we’ve ever undertaken,” she said, adding it will include various streets throughout town. “We’ll be starting construction this month, actually.”

The project is funded through a 1 cent sales tax dedicated to streets and alleys. City officials allow the proceeds of the tax to build up before committing to a project.

“The reason we’re able to do such a big project this year is because sales tax has been up in the area because of oil production. Our percentage of the one percent has been much greater every month. (Of) course, it’s starting to decline now. But there for a good year, it was up,” she said.

A 3 percent pay increase for city employees also is being proposed.

City officials are proposing a $1,657,000 General Fund expense budget and a $1,192,000 Public Works expense budget.

The proposed city budget in Kingfisher is very basic, according to City Treasurer Anita James.

Total budgeted expenditures, across all budgets, are $15,725,720.

The city has been doing flood buyouts, which are estimated in the proposed budget, James said.

She explained that city officials have not begun signing up residents and have just estimated the program’s price tag at $2.5 million.

According to James, there are grants from the federal government to purchase homes in flood areas.

Approximately 17 structures already were purchased and demolished in the deepest flood areas.

“Basically trying to reduce the loss of life and property,” she said. “It’s just a means of trying to get people out of the flood zone, take them out of harm’s way.”

The next phase is to purchase homes that have less water in them during flooding.

James said the grant funds are included in the budget because there is money coming in and going out.

A portion of the project is funded by the city, she said. FEMA pays 75 percent, there’s state reimbursement for 12.5 percent and the remaining 12.5 percent is funded by the city.

Other proposed projects include tree trimming, work on water wells, pole replacement and the purchase of police cars and computers for the police department and a half-ton pickup for the sewer department.

City officials expect to present a budget to the Cherokee City Council on Thursday, ahead of expected approval at a followup meeting, according to City Manager Don Bowman.

Projects included in the budget probably will consist of work at the water tower and sewer lagoons, he said.

Bowman said a 2 percent cost-of-living increase is being proposed for employees.

The Alva City Council is expected to consider a proposed budget on June 16.

Alva City Manager Joe Don Dunham said city officials currently are looking at purchasing a couple new police cars, some street equipment, some additional equipment for the Alva Recreational Center, $22,000 worth of additional equipment for the ambulance service and generators for the water well field.

“That would probably be a lot of the high points of the budget, as far as equipment is concerned,” he said.

The construction of new T-hangars at the airport, fire hydrant repairs, a replacement program for all water meters attached to the city lines, the completion of the city’s transfer station, $260,000 worth of street improvements and the completion of a stoplight project at the corner of highways 281 and 64 also are being proposed for funding in the budget.

While employee raises are the decision of the council, city officials are proposing a 5 percent cost-of-living increase, along with regular step increases, Dunham said.

“We haven’t gotten firm figures in on health insurance yet, but we’re expecting increases there,” Dunham said.

The proposed expense budget for the General Fund is $8,098,000, while the budget for the Alva Utility Authority fund is $3.7 million.

A proposed budget for the city of Fairview is expected to be considered by the City Council on June 17.

City officials are proposing a $1,331,325 expense budget for the General Fund, an $8,924,393 budget for the Enterprise Funds and a $1,355,386 budget for the Special Revenue Funds.

After a recent public hearing, there will be some changes made to the budget, according to City Manager Paul Southwick.

He said city officials originally had proposed $150,000 for streets, as part of a proposed $661,500 Capital Improvement Fund budget.

“We may move some of that money around, do it differently, put some towards drainage and cut some of it out of the streets this year because we’ve got other projects going on,” Southwick said.

He said a benefit package has been revamped for employees.

“The city has opted to increase the employee benefit package, to provide a more specialized, better health care plan,” he said.

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