Claremore Daily Progress

May 31, 2013

Claremore’s proposed budget boosts capital improvements

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

Claremore staff presented the proposed 2013-14 budget Wednesday to city councilors, focusing attention on several capital improvement projects.
One of the primary projects for the next year will be the $3 million expansion of Country Club Road.
City management is not stopping there with new money being allocated into major areas for infrastructure improvements, including $350,000 in utility improvements.
“We will be replacing old lines, poles and have dedicated $200,000 for direct buried lines,” according to Claremore Electric Director Larry Hughes.
The five-hour retreat to review the city’s proposed budget did more than inform the council, it revealed a new mode of operation.
City Manager Jim Thomas made it very clear to the council that not only is it “a new day in Claremore” but the city is dedicated to spending tax dollars wisely.
The budget reflected Thomas’ promise as many departments saw changes to staff and expenses this year.
The departments also presented crucial investments into areas that have been passed over in previous years, according to Thomas.
One example is a proposed pay rate increase for 25 city employees that currently earn less than $25,000 a year. The change will have a minimum impact of $46,000 on the city’s budget.
“Ten percent of our workforce is underwater,” Thomas said.
The city is also providing a 2 percent cost of living increase to police officers with a projected cost of approximately $40,000 to the budget.
City management has cut a few positions and realigned departments to provide for cost savings that will help supplement the changes.
The city will be taking on more partnerships that will boost the budget this year, including the addition of a second school resource officer to Claremore Public Schools through a partnership with Superintendent Mike McClaren.
Information technology improvements and consolidation of services saved approximately $80,000 last year, according to IT Director Tim White.
White plans to continue cost saving measures by budgeting for several new projects including WIFI upgrades across the city and $450,000 in capital improvements.
The police and fire departments will be adding mobile equipment this year in efforts to increase productivity and efficiency. The changes could impact the city’s overall employee costs associated with overtime.
The police department will also be adding three new patrol vehicles this year and an emergency response trailer.
The Claremore Recreation Center and Expo Center will be investing approximately $240,000 in new equipment and repairs.