City Manager Joan Riley introduced an accounting of CARES Act funds totaling $1,640,113 at Monday’s Administration and Finance Committee meeting. The money is part of a government stimulus plan to help municipalities with COVID-related expenses.
She and Finance Director Pam Vann explained that $826,500 of this money has already been allocated and was approved by the full City Council in November of last year. This includes $200K for the Police Department for body cams ($170K) and tasers ($30K), and $626.5K for City computer upgrades, fleet maintenance software, electronic timesheets for City employees, a property purchase, office space remodeling, library roof repairs, video conferencing upgrades, robotic mowers for the Youth Sports Complex, and utility meter upgrades.
That leaves $813,613 unallocated. The spreadsheet Riley presented to the Committee suggested allocating the monies in the following rank of priority: $400K to a Reserve Stabilization Fund, $85K for a new salt and sand building for the street department, $40K to replace sand spreaders that were damaged in the ice and snow storm, $85K to remodel City Hall restrooms, $75K for new budgeting software, $16K for the Liberty Park security upgrade, $12K for the police for new electronic speed limit signs, $11K for the police for bolo wraps, $23K to rebrand 10 of the originally requested 40 new police cars, and $66,613 to use as discretionary funds as various needs arise.
Chair Hugo Naifeh asked Riley how the $66,613 for discretionary funds was chosen. Riley responded that the number was not related to any specific items, but explained that “as the budget nears the end [of the fiscal year], things start happening.” For example, the Street Department needs another building and trash pickups are being done differently which is costing the City more money.
Naifeh then asked if Riley could give the Committee an idea on why the police car branding was being brought up again, as the last time it was requested the Committee denied it, and asked them to pay for it out of their own budget. Riley explained that it would be better to have as many as possible done at once, rather than a few at a time. Naifeh and Councillor Lou Martin reiterated that it would be best for it to come out of their own budget rather than the CARES Act funding, since $200K has already been spent on police projects.
Councilor Vicki Beyer broached the subject of the $66,613 of potential discretionary fund money. She said “We talked about having about a half a million Revenue Stabilization Fund (rainy-day fund) [in the past]. If we take the $23K for the rebranding of the police cars and the $66,613 and add it to the existing $400K, that puts us close to that number. Perhaps we could find some other amounts in other places. If we were to do anything, I’d recommend we divert those two line items to include in the stabilization fund.” Riley agreed, and asked if the Committee felt like the allocation needed to go back to the full City Council again. Naifeh and City Attorney David Widdoes both said that yes, they felt that it should go back before the Council at an upcoming meeting.
It was unanimously agreed that the Committee would recommend approval of the funding priorities with the two changes mentioned to the Council, and that the Revenue Stabilization Fund will now equal $489K.
Next the Committee went over the second drawdown of $5.75M of GO Bond funds that the Bond Oversight Committee approved last week. This was also unanimously agreed to be recommended for approval to City Council.
Before withdrawing into Executive Session to discuss the hiring of an Economic Development Director and economic development incentives for new businesses, the Committee also approved changes to the City’s fee structure for building permits, inspections, and trades.
Building Inspector Supervisor Mark Stephens made a presentation using the example of new construction of a 2,000 square foot residence with a swimming pool. He explained that the new fee structure would raise the costs of a similar project only about $300, which is still less than Sand Springs, Bixby, Jenks, and Tulsa.
Another change is that any new construction must include scale plans or architectural drawings, going forward, for legal reasons.
The three items recommended for approval are expected to go in front of City Council at its April 5th or April 19th meetings.