Three percent pay increases for all city employees except the city administrator and elected officials, as well as cuts to some departments and increases for others, are listed on the proposed Tahlequah city budget for the coming year.
A public hearing focusing on the budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 will be held Saturday, June 15, at 5 p.m. at the Armory Municipal Center. The purpose of the meeting, which is open to all, is to discuss and formulate the budget.
"The public hearing is required to give Tahlequah residents an opportunity to weigh in on creation of the budget," said Tahlequah Mayor Sue Catron. "We are hopeful that residents will attend the hearing, ask questions and provide feedback about their concerns and desires for the coming year."
The budget spreadsheets were developed before the mayor was sworn into office, and she worked with comparative numbers from April to determine the tentative numbers.
"The finance director projects end-of-year actual by dividing April actual by 10 and multiplying by 12," Catron explained. "To confirm the accuracy of that projection, for revenue, we also created a projection using year-to-date April 2019 and added actual month information for May 2018 and June 2018."
Catron added that the salaries - including possible raises - had been previously set by the City Council.
"Benefits are calculated using different methods, as some are a percentage of salary and others are a flat rate per employee," said Catron.
The proposed budget shows there will be no money available to earmark for the capital improvement fund, although a recently approved audit indicates the city is not "broke," as some have suggested.
This year's estimated expenditures for managerial is projected at $3,167,938, whereas last year's amount was $3,122,769. The Tahlequah Fire Department, which received $1,501,056 last year, is set to take a cut to $1,448,902.
This year, law enforcement expenditures are expected to come in at $382,123 more than last year, and the proposed Street Department budget increased by $161,665.
Last year, Winter Wonderland's Fund appropriation was $59,807.03, but money for the holiday ice rink has been completely eliminated from the budget. Catron said it will require money and staffing from the general fund to operate.
The general fund of $10,908,578 is considered below the projected income. The difference in the general fund is projected to be $12,363,023, whereas last year, it was $12,258,667.
A special council meeting has been set to finalize and approve the budget on June 18 at 7 p.m. That leaves little time to incorporate public comment into the formula, however.
Catron said modifications made by the City Council during that meeting will be documented and then published to the city's website.
"The final step is to enter the budget into the accounting software so that the budget is in place for financial activity July 1," said Catron.