Claremore Daily Progress

May 22, 2013

Proposed budget balances fee increases with infrastructure improvements

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter


The Claremore City Council will host a special meeting workshop to discuss a 2013-14 budget that would include several fee increases.
The workshop will be at 5 p.m. on May 29 at City Hall.
Following the public workshop, the proposed budget will be formally presented to the council June 10, who  will be asked to adopt it no later tha June 17. 
City Manager Jim Thomas presented the proposed budget to the council Monday. The budget will focus on five key areas:
• City planning and economic development
• Water quality and design
• Infrastructure-roads, storm water, East/West corridor to Highway 20
• Re-inventing municipal operations
• Partnerships-promoting tourism
“This budget will require fee adjustments to our water, sewer and solid waste disposal fees,” Thomas said.
Additionally, the council postponed a proposal to implement a storm water fee for city businesses and residents.
The budget includes a plan for the city to retain $1.3 million reduction in energy rates. The administration will request no reduction in electric rates in the fee schedule proposed by Grand River Dam Authority in April.
“Any savings [from GRDA rate cuts] will be invested in our electric infrastructure which is in need of major improvements and upgrades,” Thomas said.
Due to the change in rate structure, the city is recommending that the Claremore Electric collect the same revenue as in 2012-13.
The city will examine municipal operations during the upcoming fiscal year. 
When positions become vacated,  department heads will review the job for justification, according to Thomas.
“The ‘wants’ of any department, labor group or outside agency always far exceeds the city’s ability to pay. The challenge for the city manager is to balance all the ‘wants’ with the available finances and motivate all the various requesting groups to look at the ‘needs’ of their organization,” Thomas said.
The city will be taking aggressive steps to establish an economic development team with a “can-do” positive business attitude, according to Thomas.
The goal is to recruit, develop and promoting Claremore as an attractive investment for both residents and retailers, he added.
“It will not happen overnight. But with every citizen, business and employee serving as ambassadors of good will, the sky is the limit,” Thomas said.
The city will be promoting “Shop Claremore First” by working with community businesses and organizations to develop retail opportunities for citizens.
The new brand for the city will play an important role in this transformation, “it is a new day in Claremore” and it is part of our destiny, Thomas added.