Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

July 6, 2012

Mayor details budget figures

‘Everybody asks for the moon,’ Jason Nichols said, but when it comes to the bottom line, officials try to be fair.

TAHLEQUAH — Piecing together a city budget worth millions of dollars demands months worth of conversations and a wealth of fine-tuning.

Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols first met with city councilors last December to formally discuss this year’s budget, a plan that totals more than $17 million – including over $11 million budgeted in the city’s general fund.

“We have meetings with department heads, they give us a stack of papers cumulatively about 4 inches thick, and that’s after endless emails and informal conversations,” said Nichols. “Everybody asks for the moon. We started at about $1.3 million over on requests versus revenue, and we have to make some cuts somewhere, so we try to make it fair. I don’t feel like we ignored any immediate needs, but when we have to cut $1.3 million [from the requests], we have to make judgments on what can wait and what can’t.”

Among all the changes compared to previous years, the city’s street department probably saw the biggest change, with about a 90 percent increase in available funding for capital improvement projects paid out of the general fund.

This year’s budget lists in line-item form the improvement projects city officials hope to see completed in 2012 and 2013. Nichols said listing the projects individually will help leaders keep track of where the funds are being spent.

The project estimated to be the most costly is along North Cedar, north of the State Highway 51 bypass, which has $155,000 earmarked for improvements. The east and west ends of Redbud Lane are set for projects totaling about $80,000.

“The streets are going to be a priority, and I hope this budget reflects that,” said Nichols.

The city is also budgeting for Tahlequah Police Department to acquire six new vehicles every year, a process started during the last budget year. Previously, TPD was buying four new vehicles every year, but Nichols said purchasing six per year, with a fleet of about 30, will result in vehicles having about a five-year life before they are rotated out of the day-to-day lineup.

TPD plans to purchase three cars and three sport-utility vehicles for around $150,000. Nichols said the SUVs will be used for detectives.

City councilors approved giving Tahlequah Fire Department $25,000 this year, instead of a requested $100,000, to be used toward purchase of a new tanker truck. TPD already had approximately $25,000 to eventually be used on the large purchase.

“Even with $100,000, it wasn’t going to get them there, they weren’t going to be able to buy it,” said Nichols. “Maybe they can save up, and within three or four years they can purchase the tanker.”

This year’s budget also addresses a federal mandate for emergency response agencies to switch to narrow-band radios by next January. City officials had been hoping for a $170,000 grant that would have paid for the expensive changes, but the grant fell through.

Now, city officials will be finding various ways to fund the change. Nichols said some departments have recently purchased new radios capable of working under the new mandates.

“And for instance, instead of buying every single officer a radio this year, we can buy half - they can rotate out per shift, and then next year, we’ll buy the other half,” said Nichols. “So they’re covered.”

City officials set aside about $75,000 for fiber installations and an iPhone application development. Nichols said the app development will require about 10 percent of that budget, and the application will help city officials interact with the public. Leaders originally thought the projects would cost around $125,000.

“We thought we were going to have to have third parties do all of our fiber work, but now we’ve developed a collaborative sort of project with the [Northeastern Oklahoma Public Facilities Authority] and Tahlequah Public Works Authority,” said Nichols. “TPWA can hang the fiber for us, and the gas authority buys the connectors for the poles. Well, pretty soon, things get a lot cheaper.”

Approximately $16,500 has been set aside for placing security cameras as the city skate park. The request was originally $50,000, and would have included installation of cameras at not only the skate park, but also at the Armory Municipal Center.

Nichols said the difference in the original request and the final budget was simply a matter of the need to trim the requests.

Text Only
Local News
  • ths-jazz-2.jpg THS jazz band gets up early to hone performance skills

    It means getting up an hour earlier, and it doesn’t count as a class, but the jazz band at Tahlequah High School enjoys the dedication of a group of enthusiastic students.
    The THS Jazz Band practices every day at 7 a.m., an hour before the start of classes. It numbers 17, and is led by Director Orien Landis.
    “They have to do this before school and they get no class credit, but we have a full band,” Landis said. “They are really excited about this.”

    April 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • Easter-basket-kid.jpg Easter traditions date back centuries

    Some Christians may lament a partial shift of focus, but a Christian holy day - perhaps the most holy of all – is this Sunday, and it will be marked with celebrations all around the world.
    The Christian holiday of Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. For centuries, the observant have fasted, reflected or done penance in the weeks leading to the holiday. But today, many also associate the holiday with the Easter bunny, candy, and kites. In 2013, Americans spent $2.1 billion on Easter candy.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some oppose minimum wage hike; others decry strong-arming by state

    President Barack Obama and the U.S. Senate recently announced a push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour, to $10.10. On the heels of the announcement, an initiative petition was introduced in Oklahoma City to raise the minimum wage to the suggested $10.10. If it gained 80,000 signatures, it would be put to a vote of the people.
    This legislative session, a bill passed prohibiting municipalities from setting a minimum was or vacation and sick-day requirements. Gov. Mary Fallin signed the bill into law earlier this week.

    April 18, 2014

  • Phone scam takes $500 from couple

    Authorities are warning Cherokee County residents to watch for a costly phone scam that recently targeted a local couple and ended in their loss of $500.
    According to sheriff’s deputies, a couple contacted authorities after losing $500 to the scam. The couple received a phone call from a man who identified himself only as “Mr. Green.” He told the couple they had won $1.5 million through Publisher’s Clearing House, but to collect the money, the couple would have to purchase a $500 money card to cover various fees.

    April 18, 2014

  • Missing local teen found dead

    The body of a missing 17-year-old boy was found in southern Cherokee County on Thursday, sheriff’s investigators said.
    Brikk Pritchett was reported missing earlier this month after disappearing on March 30, a day before his 17th birthday.

    April 18, 2014

  • ts honor flight 1.tif Flight of honor

    World War II veteran Charles Harra flew missions for the Army Air Corps, and if you ask him which flight was his most memorable, he’ll say it was his 35th mission.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Man charged after leading authorities on wild chase

    Prosecutors have formally charged a man who allegedly led authorities on a wild high-speed pursuit across Cherokee County in late March.

    April 17, 2014

  • Sex offender bonds out after failing to register

    A Cherokee County man is out on bond after being arrested last week for failing to register as a sex offender.

    April 17, 2014

  • jn radiator shop.jpg ‘Greenbelt’ progressing

    Crews this week began to demolish an abandoned radiator shop at the corner of South Street and Guinn Avenue.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts slut walk.tif SlutWalk shines spotlight on crime

    “Two, four, six, eight, stop the violence, stop the rape; slut, slut, ho, ho, yes means yes and no means no!”
    This was the battle cry across the campus of Northeastern State University, as the student branch of the American Association of University Women held its third annual SlutWalk Wednesday.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Stocks