NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment

Edmond City Council considers $297M budget for next fiscal year

EDMOND — A nearly $297 million budget, with no raises for civilian city employees, has been proposed to the Edmond City Council for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Police officer and firefighter union representatives have completed contract negotiations for the upcoming fiscal year. Police officers will receive a 3.2 percent salary increase while the firefighter increase will be 3.32 percent.

The proposed budget reflects an increase of about 18 percent over last year, largely because of expenditures for major capital improvement projects planned for the water and wastewater departments, said City Manager Larry Stevens in his annual budget message to the city council.

It also recommends hiring 18 employees; 12 of those new jobs are for water and wastewater operations.

City officials anticipate making an estimated $300 million in water and wastewater improvements over the next five years. They expect to pay for the entire improvement package with $150 million in bond sales, reserve money and recent and future rate increases.

Other proposed employee hires are in facility maintenance, fire, administration, customer service and financial services.

If the new employees are approved, the city will have 746 full-time positions.

The proposed budget does not calculate any projected growth for the upcoming year because of the current economic downturn.

“Edmond remains very blessed in comparison to most other cities in the state,” Stevens told council members as they examined the proposed budget.

This year's budget included 2.5 percent revenue growth for the year. At the 10-month mark, Stevens said, growth is 1.28 percent and he does not anticipate Edmond will reach the 2.5 percent by the close of the fiscal year.

Health insurance for city employees is to go up 22 percent, and the increase will be split 11 percent by the city and the employees, said City Finance Director Ross VanderHamm.

The city pays 76.5 percent of employees total health premiums and the employees pay 23.5 percent, VanderHamm said.

Edmond not only calculates a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, but officials also come up with a five-year financial plan. The multiyear document gives city leaders advance notice when there might be a budget shortfall.

Sales tax

Edmond's total sales tax rate remains at 8.25 percent, the lowest in the metro, Stevens said. That includes a 4.5 percent state tax that is charged to all cities, and 3.75 percent that goes to the city.

Of the city's 3.75 percent, 2 cents goes to the general fund, a quarter-cent goes to firefighters and an eighth-cent funds police. Parks gets an eighth of a cent, and three-fourths of a cent goes to the 2000 capital improvement fund, VanderHamm said.

The remaining half-cent sales tax was approved Oct. 11, 2011, for five years, to pay for the new public safety center. The tax ends March 31. The re-purposed half-cent tax will start in April for capital improvements.

City officials estimate the city collects $17 million for each penny of sales tax during the fiscal year.

“We are very pleased that our local voters recently said yes, overwhelmingly, to both a 10-year extension of one cent of the two-cent allocation to the general fund, and a 10-year repurposing of the half-cent tax currently earmarked for the new public safety center, to be used in the future for capital improvements.” Stevens said.

In an effort to be proactive, Stevens said, they are proposing to decrease fuel costs from $1.1 million a year ago to $870,912, a 20 percent drop.

“The elephant in the room for the future of our local and state economies remains the price of oil,” Stevens said. “We have again been fortunate in Edmond to be less directly affected by the continuing downturn than many other cities in Oklahoma, but we believe the local impact may increase to some degree during the next budget year.”

The budget has to be approved by city council members by their last meeting in June.

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›

Comments