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Edmond Exchange for June 18

Parking spaces nearly complete

The end of June is the deadline for 54 new public parking spaces to be ready in downtown Edmond. Gravel was spread this week across the parking lot on the south side of the city's administration building, 100 E First St. "It has taken significantly longer then originally anticipated but Rudy Construction is now making significant progress," said City Manager Larry Stevens.

The parking lot is on the spot formerly occupied by a bank drive-thru, which was demolished before the public safety center construction began. It was used as a staging area by Timberlake Construction. The cost is $801,198 and will be funded by the five-year, half-cent public safety center sales tax.

Trail work continues

Excavation and fill work is continuing on the three-mile multipurpose trails from the frontage road on Interstate 35 to Spring Creek Park at Arcadia Lake. City Manager Larry Stevens said rain has slowed some of the work.

"The clearing under the interstate has been completed, and the excess material is being used in the middle trail section to reach grade level," Stevens said. The plan is to begin laying asphalt in August and complete the project in early fall. The $2.9 million cost will be funded by a special sales tax approved by voters in 2000 for capital improvements.

Sales tax shows little growth

For the fiscal year soon to end, the city has experienced its second-lowest sales tax revenue growth in 18 years. With the last sales tax collection check in, Edmond had a revenue growth of 0.78 percent  for the fiscal year that ends June 30 as compared to the previous year.

This year the Oklahoma Tax Commission cut its fee to collect the tax money from 1 percent to ½ percent. With the additional money from the Tax Commission added in, the growth increases to 1.24 percent. The only lower sales tax growth in the last 18 years was during the 2009-2010 fiscal year, when the city had a 5.49 percent drop in collections over the previous  year. This year, council members projected a 2.5 percent growth in the budget.

"Realistically, we feel positive about being above last year in any amount, given the current economic climate in Oklahoma and in comparison to other cities in the state," said City Manager Larry Stevens. Comparing the June check to a year ago, the monthly total was down 3.86 percent.

The June check is for collections from sales the last two weeks of April and the first half of May. For the fiscal year, Edmond collected $63.76 million in sales tax revenue. This month's check was for $5.06 million. Council members will consider a $297 million budget during a special meeting at 11 a.m. Monday at 20 S Littler Ave. No growth is figured in the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Road project

Construction is underway on Covell Road from Fairfax Boulevard to Interstate 35 to make it a four-lane divided concrete road. Between Sooner and I-35 the road will be six lanes with left and right turn lanes. Signal lights will be installed along Covell at Fairfax, Sooner and Market Place. Plans include 10-foot multiuse paths on both sides of the street. The $12.5 million project is expected to take 310 days if the weather cooperates. Temporary lanes will be built to help with traffic.

It's a fact

Edmond has more than 300 licensed amateur radio operators who help the public with emergency radio communications and storm spotting.

What's happening

Citizens Bank of Edmond's Heard on Hurd starts at 6 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Broadway and Hurd with live music, food trucks and shopping. Edmond Planning Commission will hold a workshop to discuss updating Edmond Plan IV, city zoning and the planning code, at 5:30 p.m. Monday at 20 S Littler Ave.

Need answers?

Reader Derel Schrock: "Who makes the decisions to use taxpayer money to acquire city sculptures? The latest purchase for an admittedly spectacular sculpture placed on the University of Central Oklahoma campus cost us $171,000, perhaps a bargain (if it were for resale), but that money could have been used on many needy projects around the city, like paving, fixing potholes, enlarging intersections." 

Assistant City Manager Steve Commons answered: "Our public art programs come about in different ways in Edmond. The art piece noted in the question was funded by the city council. They used contingency funds that they budget each year for projects they select to support. They annually budget $100,000 to this contingency account and this project was funded over two budget years with the acquisition, moving, installation and construction of the base.  Private funds were donated to refurbish the piece."

Have questions about Edmond, its road construction, the hotel and conference center, traffic, or capital improvements?

Email Diana Baldwin at Follow her on Twitter @Edmond_beat.

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 ›