City Manager's Corner

MEMORANDUM                                                                                       CITY OF CHOCTAW


                              TO:  The Honorable Mayor and Members of the City Council

                        FROM:  Ed Brown, City Manager

                         DATE:  June 11, 2019/

                   SUBJECT:  2019/2020 Choctaw City Budget Executive Transmittal Memo

Overview:  On behalf of the entire Choctaw team, I am pleased to present the FY 2019/2020 Proposed Budget.  The most important document your Professional Management Staff puts together for the City.  Just about every funding line and project can be tied back to a recommended activity in the Comprehensive Master Plan.  Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the new budget, I want to recap the execution of last year’s budget, as it impacts what we project for the out years. 

FY 2018/19 execution went very well.  We continued the modernization of processes, procedures, equipment, and staff hiring.  We hired a Deputy Finance Director, Human Resources Director, and Payroll Clerk.  The team worked diligently to transition the City to a new Finance, Accounting, Utility Billing, and Employee Management software which will go live in June of this year.  Implementation streamlines purchasing, accounting, and personnel transactions freeing up the Directors to focus on modernizing policy within the departments and planning for the future.  The Roads Assessment, completed by staff last year, was critical to the formation of the Mayor’s Committee on Roads.  Nine citizens and two councilmembers have stepped up to the task of recommending priorities and funding strategies to Council in the coming months to fix our roads and put a process in place that is repeatable.  The Streets Department stretched personnel capabilities and resources to the limit and met the challenge of fixing the intersection of 29th Street and Choctaw Road.  The job was a big one--but we finished with a much safer intersection that will endure the test of the heavy truck traffic as Choctaw grows. 

Some notable accomplishments:  The City took over full operation of the Bouse Sports Complex in July of last year.  Some the improvements:  trail system, traffic and parking management signs, fencing for playground and splash pad, site housekeeping and cleanup.  The City offered more in the form of programs to our community through intramurals, locally-run leagues, tournaments, and practice opportunities.  The Concessions performed well above expectations.  The team will continue to provide more opportunities and flexibility in schedule to the Citizens of Choctaw.  The Golf Course continued significant positive improvements.  The condition of the greens make the course.  The Choctaw Creek greens are in outstanding condition.  The new manager and superintendent have improved play and business operations with over $100K improvement to the bottom-line.  The addition of a sit down Steak and BBQ restaurant is an enhancement not only to the course but to the community as a whole--yet another success.  Other significant accomplishments include the donation of playground equipment by the Mayor’s Charity Golf Tournament, completion of the new Waste Water Treatment Plant (set for July), improvements to Cemetery (decorative fence and demo of house), design of downtown building to entice our local business to Main Street, Food Truck Fridays, Rock the Park, July 4th fireworks, Friday Night Farmer’s Market, Park Pavilion renovations, IT modernizations, website upgrade, new waterline to Anderson & 15th Street, engineering funding for sewer extension down 23rd to Hiwassee, and sidewalk grant for Harper, drainage and tin horn fixes, and a whole lot more. 

What are we going to do next year?  FY 2019/20 Budget will hold steady on new programs, projects, and personnel, as projections on Sales Tax remain flat.  We are still short on personnel to support the population of Choctaw.  However, we will finish what we started and stay focused on the recommendations in the Comprehensive Master Plan.  We programmed a modest 2% raise for non-bargaining unit employees not including Department Heads and put in place merit based salary step systems for both Police and Fire.  Hoping to do the same for the non-bargaining city employees in the year to follow. 

This year, the 2nd we will use an IT management service, in order to relieve stress on the General Fund we are spreading costs if IT across each department based on Computer users.  We will also fund up Parks & Recreation to a 5% vice 3% which is still below the desired goal of 7%.  We needed to get more cash flow to Parks & Recreation to accommodate the programming.  As we work a proposed ordinance to codify Minimum Reserve funds for emergencies, infrastructure projects, and unforeseen down-turns, we put aside significant funds in reserves this year as a staff policy recommendation to Council. 

The important numbers:  City budget is approximately $8.1M, and the CUA budget is approximately $2.7M for an overall budget of about $~12M.  Here are some particulars: 

General Fund Highlights:  

  • Sales tax to the city will be flat with increase in Use Tax; possibly open a Starbucks
  • No new programs and improve on current
  • No new funded personnel added, did add unfunded positions to show shortfalls
  • Capital Budget will remain about the same as last year
  • Golf Course and Bouse Park transfers for stabilization, but less than last year

CUA Fund Highlights:  

  • Carryover fund balance projected for FY 2020 --meet WRB requirements for debt
  • Increase in revenue for anticipated new service
  • Study funding structure to implement in 2021 (new fee structure for Utilities)
  • Well repair (3rd & Clarke)
  • Water & Sewer extension (23rd Street)
  • Water loop (Harper Rd)
  • Sewer Lift Station repair (4th Street)
  • New WWTP saves two positions allocated elsewhere in CUA

Capital Outlay and Special Highlights Public Safety:  

  • Lease purchase of 5 new Police vehicles
  • Upgrade public safety radios to accommodate MHz change for dispatch
  • Critical maintenance to Police Department roof, A/C, and interior furniture
  • Purchase shotguns
  • 2 new Fire trucks
  • Fire facility repairs
  • Reserves set aside for future funding of bunker gear, radios, Tasers, body armor
  • Established a Siren Fund

Capital Outlay and Special Highlights Public Works:  

  • Dump truck, large trailer for track hoe
  • Cement 23rd St. drainage
  • Cement the Bypass & Clarke turn lane to repair huge rut
  • Pave parking at Bouse, Choctaw Creek Golf, Choctaw Creek Park
  • Increase to Streets Dedicate fund transfer for repairs-such as tin horns, washouts, etc.

Capital Outlay and Special Highlights Parks & Recreation:  

  • Lease purchase golf carts
  • Funding for Special Events such as 4th of July, etc.
  • Fix fence along Hiwassee GC
  • Safety improvements to Bouse Park Ball Fields
  • Safety improvements to Golf Course
  • Restore medium pavilion at Choctaw Creek Park
  • Renovate restrooms at Choctaw Creek Park
  • Playground equipment and basketball court
  • Monument sign at Bouse
  • Message boards at Parks

Capital Outlay and Special Highlights Administration:  

  • City Hall server project upgrade by IT
  • City Hall phased image upgrade and repairs (Council Chambers, front office/customer spaces, furniture, and flooring)
  • Reserves for IT--phased upgrades
  • Training

Capital Outlay and Special Highlights Planning & Development:  

  • Elections (Special)
  • Computer and Plotter

Personnel Highlights:  

  • No new funded positions, added 15 unfunded positions, 2% raise for non-bargaining employees
  • Merit-based salary scale for Unions (FOP and IFFA)

As you can see, the City continues targeted spending while holding the line on projects requiring multi-year commitments.  The focus this year is to complete all projects started, work on policy improvements, develop our Professional Public Servants, and continue to modernize City processes to better serve the citizens of Choctaw. 

One commitment we made this year is a conscious decision to put money away for future projects like roads and water.  Although not significant, it is a start creating the habit of putting money away for a rainy day and emergency fund.  $100K was put into reserves as seed money.  The goal will be to build this reserve to between 10% and 35% of the carryover budget for use in the future.  Even though we have a positive carryover projected, the planned negative revenue based on income is a bit concerning--we cannot continue this trend over an extended period.  Current strategy is a bridge to 2023.  The light at the end of the tunnel is in the form of the sales tax, as the TIF is projected to close in 2023, allowing significant dedicated sales taxes to flow back into the General Fund.  The City continues to run lean on staff and the current City Hall and Police Department are very tired and showing age.  The influx of the sales taxes will allow room for some bigger projects and hiring needed staff to service our growing City. 

In accordance with State Law, a Public Hearing regarding the Proposed Budget was held during a Special City Council Meeting on June 12, 2019 at 7 p.m.  By law, the budget must be adopted by June 15 and filed with the State Auditor and Oklahoma County within 30 days of the beginning of the fiscal year.  The City held a public budget workshop on May 24th to discuss in detail the proposed budget. 

Sincerely,

Edward R. Brown
City Manager


--posted June 26, 2019