City commission to talk moving to phase 3 of reopening

Jerald Gilbert

ENID, Okla. — Though the city projects a roughly $6 million deficit in next year’s budget, Enid City Manager Jerald Gilbert told commissioners Thursday night he doesn’t expect any major capital projects would need to be delayed through the first half of the year.

As commissioners again reviewed proposed budgets for the 2020-21 fiscal year, this time for all capital improvement project departments, Ward 5 Commissioner Rob Stallings asked if, based on revenue predictions, the city could afford more than $15 million in capital projects.

“You listen very long to the news, you get very pessimistic about the future,” Stallings said. “I want to make sure we don’t step too fast and don’t spend money we don’t have or not going to get.”

In total, 60 projects comprise the capital improvement fund’s $15.3 million budget — a slight increase from this fiscal year’s $14.7 million.

Gilbert told Stallings that dilemma likely would have to wait until the first quarter of the new fiscal year when the city receives the end of the last’s sales tax revenues from Oklahoma Tax Commission. The city has budgeted next year a 10% decrease in sales tax revenue, along with nearly $2 million less in water revenue and $405,000 less in police fines.

“I think we can do them if we’re only down 10% on sales tax. If it’s worse than that, we won’t be able to,” Gilbert said. “But if you want, we could take them off now and add them back later with revenue support.”

However, Gilbert said most capital improvement projects get encumbered until the second half of the fiscal year anyway, which also would give city officials time to see how the local economy improves from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major capital improvement projects in­­­­­­clude stormwater and transportation work on the soccer complex, expected to cost $1 million next year; connection of the Enid Trails System to downtown, at $75,000; construction of the new skate park, at $300,000; numerous traffic and lighting public works projects; and phase one of a mill and overlay on Randolph from Washington to 7th, set at $1.5 million.

Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell questioned repainting the floor of Champlin Pool, which would cost $25,000. “Do we need to paint the pool bottom if we don’t open it this year?” he asked, to which Gilbert replied it could be delayed if needed, though he said the project wasn’t expensive enough that they might as well do it now. The city manager has yet to decide whether the public pool, along with the city’s two public splash pads, will remain closed this summer.

Funds presented Thursday receiving decreases into next year are capital improvement, street and alley, and stormwater funds. Funds receiving increases are street improvements, sanitary sewer, water capital improvement and escrow.

The overall budget commissioners are expected to approve in their meeting Tuesday calls for about $156.5 million in revenue, with spending set at about $163 million. The roughly $6.26 million deficit will be made up by fund balances that have built up over the years in several areas. For instance, general fund expenses for the 2020-21 fiscal year are budgeted at about $51.2 million, with about $48.7 million in revenue. However, the general fund has a current fund balance of about $13.1 million, set aside as a rainy day-type fund.

Senior accountant Jennifer Smith said the city would be monitoring the general and Enid Municipal Authority funds, as they are the only large deficit budgets they have. EMA is budgeted at $55.9 million for next year, with about $53.7 million in revenue. It has a fund balance of $115 million.

Last week, commissioners also re­­viewed budgets for Stride Bank Center, Enid Municipal Authority, Enid Po­­­­lice Department, Enid Fire Department, Meadowlake Golf Course and the 911 center.

Associate Editor Kevin Hassler contributed to this story.

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Ewald is copy editor and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @oualexewald.

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