By Dale Denwalt, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
Enid City Commission has approved a sprawling $173.47 million budget to fund every facet of its operations through June 2014.
After several public meetings over the past two months, commissioners made their final decision to adopt the 184-page document, after only a brief discussion Tuesday. Commissioners Rodney Timm and David Vanhooser voted against the proposals, citing fiscal conservatism issues with predicting growth in the Enid’s revenues.
Their two “no” votes, however, will delay immediate implementation of the budget until later this week because of a parliamentary miscue.
The city charter requires no fewer than five affirmative votes to adopt the budget’s emergency clause — that would have put it into effect July 1. Because Commissioner Mike Stuber was absent from the meeting, and because of the dissenting votes, the emergency clause only gained four votes.
The issue was not realized until after adjournment, when an Enid News & Eagle reporter questioned whether the emergency test actually passed. Upon review of the city’s governing documents, staff confirmed a makeup vote is needed to avoid waiting the full 30 days before implementation.
The makeup vote is scheduled for 7 a.m. Friday.
During debate on the budget, Timm raised similar arguments he offered in previous meetings — that expanding the budget by 5 percent, based on higher expected tax revenue, is unwise.
“I like the idea how we spent money in April that we had left over. If we have extra money, we can put it where it needs to be,” he said.
Commissioner Ben Ezzell supported the growth figure and also voted for the budget.
“This is the statutory system set up for this body to spend its money,” Ezzell said. “Our job is to go through this process, making a fair assumption about what we will be taking in and what we will spending. If at the end of the year we’re dead on, we shouldn’t have a chunk left over.”
Vanhooser called the prediction a gamble.
“I do not think it’s responsible of us to start out with a budget that’s lopsided to the expenses side rather than the revenue side,” he said.
City Manager Eric Benson, in supporting the budget, praised the debate between the commissioners. At one point, he called it “invigorating.”
“We’ve never had this level of inspection and analyzation, and it’s raised our game,” he said.
Vanhooser also issued a challenge to several departments he said could have their own revenue streams.
“There are a number of those who have that ability. For every $500,000 the golf course could generate toward their own expenses, that’s another $500,000 we could put toward the trails” and other city priorities, he said.
The commission also approved $730,000 from the city’s rainy day fund, a $6 million coffer that has sat untapped for several years. The money will be paired with another $1.3 million from the general fund to expand the Enid Trail System.
Timm was the lone dissenting vote, and said he has a problem taking money out of the rainy day fund for trail improvement instead of a disaster.
“We have no idea when it’s going to happen,” he said.
Commissioner Tammy Wilson defended the vote, saying that the trails are a priority for the city.
“And I think if we get hit by a tornado, $5 million is still going to be a pretty good chunk of money,” she said.