The Tahlequah City Council took no action Monday night on a financial plan presented at the request of Mayor Sue Catron.

During the Aug. 5 City Council meeting, Catron asked City Administrator Ed Carr to provide her and the councilors with a budget financial plan.

Carr's first recommendation was to strip the funds from the Edward Jones investment accounts and use that money to fix the financial problems the city is facing.

Four CDs from Edward Jones, which will mature in October, amount to $735,000, and total CDs maturing this year will amount to $1.084 million. Those investments can be used once they have matured.

"I don't believe it makes sense to pay a higher interest rate for all of our lease-purchases than the amount of interest we earn on our investment," said Carr.

Carr said if he had included a recommendation to make "drastic cuts," it could have a big impact on city employees. Another suggestion Carr provided was to increase residential and commercial solid waste fees by $3.50 per customer.

"The last time solid waste had an increase was in 2009, and prices raise with our vendors across the spectrum - fuel, vehicle, parts, repairs and labor. Prices keep going up, but the city hasn't raised prices," he said.

He pointed out there are 6,422 residential customers, and at $12.50, that brings in $80,275. If the fee were to be raised by $3.50, the service would bring in an additional $22,477, for a total of $102,752. There are 445 commercial customers, whose payments amount to $7,342 a year. The higher fee would bump that number to $8,900.

Solid Waste Director Chris Armstrong said Tahlequah residents are paying below what surrounding cities are paying.

"With prices going up on everything, it's going to go up on us as well. We've got to go up with prices," said Armstrong.

He said the move will also help the city with future solid waste advancements.

Ward 3 Councilor Stephen Highers voiced his frustration with the fact that the city is in its second month of the fiscal year, and solid plans have yet to be made. He said the city has been focused on having a "progressive" agenda, and that maybe it is time to slow down.

"Look at where our revenues are and see if they stabilize, or if we're bringing revenue in at a faster clip or a slower clip, before we look at some of these measures that the city manager has put before us," said Highers.

Carr said so many items have been cut from the budget that some departments aren't capable of doing their jobs properly, and he doesn't know if he can make any more cuts.

After discussion on the budget wound down, the councilors ended up taking no action on Carr's financial plan.

The council did approve an in-kind contribution of labor and materials for up to $4,300 for a veterans' memorial. For Phase 1 of an infrastructure build-out, a $2,000 contribution was donated for cement.

To move forward, the veterans groups will need the $4,300 from the city.

Highers motioned to fund the memorial pending the reallocation of the budget, while Ward 2 Councilor Dower Combs seconded.

What's next

Because of an early print deadline Monday night for the Daily Press, there will be a followup story in the Wednesday, Aug. 7 edition about other Tahlequah City Council business from the Aug. 5 meeting.