Tahlequah Daily Press

May 3, 2013

City sales tax brings in $24.6M

By JOSH NEWTON
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — Tahlequah’s city coffers received an influx of more than $24.6 million Wednesday as leaders took the next step in an historic capital-improvements bond issue.

Voters approved of the bond issue in January, and city leaders promised the projects would be completed within two years.

More than $21 million is set aside for the projects, with $10 million-plus for streets, $7.25 million for municipal projects, and nearly $4 million for community projects.

Another $3.5 million is set aside for expenses such as capitalized interest, a debt-service reserve fund, cost of issuance, and an underwriter’s discount, according to documents provided by the Tahlequah Public Facilities Authority.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols said some of the planned projects are already under way.

“It’s going to be pretty rapid-fire,” said Nichols.

City officials are preparing legal documents that will allow for the transfer of funds to Northeastern State University, which will be overseeing construction of a community center addition to the university’s new event center.

Nichols said NSU officials were responsible for engineering the community center, a process that was completed when the event center was designed. NSU won’t be awarding bids on the community center until the money from the city bond issue has been formally transferred to the university.

Other capital-improvement projects will begin soon, kicking off what is expected to be a two-year cycle of new construction and upgrades to existing infrastructure around the city.

“We have substantial prep work done on the South Muskogee project,” said Nichols.

Plans call for Muskogee Avenue, between Fourth Street and the bypass, to be expanded to five lanes.

“And there will be two or so other road projects, maybe a third, started before the end of the year,” said Nichols. “We anticipate those to be a project on Bluff and a project on West Fourth Street.”

Nichols said work could begin on a new swimming pool by the fall.

The city must still select a consultant and work its way through bidding processes before the work can begin.

“Both consultants we’ve spoken with think [the new sports complex on West Allen Road] would be the most economically feasible place to put the new pool,” said Nichols.

Upgrades to police technology could also be targeted in the near future, and the city could place its order for a new fire truck, though the vehicle likely wouldn’t arrive until the fall.