State lawmakers may still be wrangling over unresolved budget issues, but the City of Claremore is set to go for 2006-2007.

The City council approved a $87.1 million 2006-2007 City of Claremore budget in a short special meeting Thursday afternoon with only a few department heads present, one member of the media, city councilors, the city clerk and the city manager.

The budget reflects a 2.5 percent projected increase in sales tax and $36.1 million capital spending program.

City Manager Troy Powell — who has been in office six months — was lauded by members of the Council during and after the meeting for what they termed “significant” and “tremendous” progress in city’s administration.

“There has been tremendous progress in a very short time,” said Councilor Tony Mullenger, “and, I am thoroughly amazed at everything that has been accomplished.”

Councilor and Deputy Mayor Flo Guthrie also had words of praise for Powell and the city staff.

Guthrie, who said she “has been here a long time,” offered words of congratulations for a job well done. “(The City) is organized the best it has ever been.”

The budget includes a $1.4 million reduction in the overall operating expenses.

Powell said the goal of the budget process is to reduce operation expenses and invest in long term capital needs.

The city has reduced it’s administrative operating units (departments) from 28 to 23 and reduced the workforce by 18 full time, 8 part time and 13 temporary positions.

Powell, in an earlier interview regarding changes at City Hall, said over half of the positions eliminated were already vacant.

“A good thing is that every department experiencing a reduction in force is also experiencing an increase in the quality of service.

“We are still providing the same level of service if not more,” Powell said.

At the beginning of the budget process, the city manager ask department managers and administrative staff to focus on finding ways to streamline operations through “accountability and efficiency.”

“I present this budget proudly,” Powell wrote in the Budget and Financial Plan introduction. “True accountability and efficiency comes from the development of an organizational culture, not a decrease in spending. The City council and staff must realize, and embrace the dedication and planning it takes to prepare a city for the future.

“True success can only be achieved by long term planning, communication and innovative thinking.”

Powell’s next objective is to prepare a five-year plan for city spending.

“If we do a five-year plan, I want it to be as accurate as we can be,” Powell said.

The total budgeted amount for 06-07 is $87,149,529 which is $6,251,115 greater than the 05-06 budget.

Interested citizens can obtain a complete copy of the 125-page city Budget and Financial Plan at City Hall.

Highlights from the budget will be printed in the Daily Progress throughout the month of June.

Contact Clarice Doyle at cdoyle@cnhi.com

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