A $96 million budget is currently being reviewed by the City of Claremore. The city's finance committee has crunched the numbers and presented their budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.
City Manager Jim Thomas presented the numbers to the council, saying it was a budget the committee, and the council, can proudly get behind.
"This budget includes realistic, conservative revenue projections and expenses addressing all municipal operations along with enterprise funds, trusts, city debt and obligation. It is balanced with a focus on supporting long-range strategic goals outlined in Claremore Dreams 2025 strategic community vision," he said, adding that as a result of the Dreams 2025 initiative he feels the budget represents the mission and values of the citizens of Claremore.
"The 2019 budget required difficult choices and decisions but it is sound in it's fiscal purpose and is balanced as to revenue and expenditures to provide the quality of service our Claremore residents and business community have come to expect," he said.
"Our total budget for fiscal year 2019 is just over $96 million," he said. "But, for clarification for our citizens, there is about $10 million from our current fiscal year that will not be expended so it will roll over into 2019."
Thomas said the proposed budget includes a three percent cost of living increase for all city employees.
"We've allocated money and found property to build a dog park that will be open to our residents," he said. "And we're making substantial investment into our recreation and expo center."
He said the Claremore Library will receive a face lift and new carpet. Claremore Lake will have a new road into Stampede Park and the city's comprehensive plan project has been funded. Thomas said over $4 million was budgeted for infrastructure projects. Two miles of sidewalk throughout the community was also budgeted.
"Over the last four years we have adjusted water, sewer, sanitation and monthly utility customer charges to address capital expenditure needs and costs passed along by some of our suppliers. Our current electric supplier, GRDA, will be passing along another two percent rate increase to the city in January. It will be the second rate increase in the last three years. I am recommending the city absorb this rate increase in its current revenue stream and not pass it on to our residential customers as other communities are currently doing," Thomas said.
He added that for the second year in a row, the city is not recommending any "new increase in other revenue streams."
Rather, he said city administration is confident that as they "continue to apply best practices and efficiencies in operations" combined with economic growth, city revenue and expenses can be met.
The proposed budget includes a recommended allocation of $200,000 to purchase 20-acres of land directly next to the Claremore airport. This, Thomas said, will allow for future hanger expansion. Additionally, he said the Park Department is interested in expanding the bike trails around Happy Lake by an additional 10 acres at a cost of roughly $145,000. The budget includes funds to accompany the acquisition of two tracts in the Claremore industrial park.
Claremore Dreams 2025
Thomas said the Claremore Dreams 2025 initiative culminated at the State of the City address. At that time five areas of focus were outlined as a result of community input and partner meetings. Those areas of focus, trains and transportation, infrastructure, economic development, placemaking and quality of life, and partnerships, were reflected in the proposed budget, Thomas said.
The budget was presented to the council this week for review and will be voted on at the next regular council meeting.