Bond updates, budgets, and city employee performance evaluations key topics at Administration and Finance Committee Meeting

The Sapulpa City Council Administration and Finance Committee met in regular session on Thursday, April 23, 2020, at noon at City Hall and via videoconference. The city council members present were Vickie Beyer, Craig Henderson, and Hugo Naifeh, and Mayor Lou Martin.

As the first order of business, Martin was nominated and elected chairperson of the committee.

The first administrative item on the agenda was to share and discuss the 2020 GO Bond project updates. City Manager Joan Riley said that her department has begun the process of getting the bonds sold and that she and Finance Director Pam Vann had a phone call yesterday with the agency that rates them. Riley and Vann believe the City’s usual superior bond ratings will be maintained due to the sound position of the current fiscal year budget. However, they say, there are many unknown factors due to the current pandemic that could play a negative role in the ratings.

In the few days since Monday evening’s regular City Council meeting, the city has signed and finalized a contract with the firm the Council approved to create the Downtown Master Plan. New HVAC units have also already been ordered for the police department.

Economic Development Director Steve Hardt gave updates on the project that puts a stoplight at the intersection of Highway 117 and 49th West Avenue. The City has already made a payment for $129,000 to Guy Engineering from money set aside for the project in the Street Fund. This money may be reimbursed to the City from the bond funds since this project was part of one of the proposals in the GO Bond. The payment covered the preliminary design and survey of the project and the preparation of the Right of Way documents, which are being done now.

Martin proposed communicating these bond updates with the Oversight and Advisory Board as evidence that important progress is being made.

Next, the committee considered potential impacts on the City’s revenue and expenses for the remaining fiscal year budget for 2019-2020 and the projected fiscal year budget for 2020-2021. Riley said she was “confident they will stand firm and be within budget this year.” She further said that they were “up a little over 7.5% on sales tax receipts and have held that,” and plan to for the remaining three months of the fiscal year. Vann agreed, saying, “This year we are sitting pretty on budget,” but that they have gone ahead and initiated an “emergency spending” plan which will continue through the first quarter of next year.

Riley explained that most of the City’s sales tax revenue is dedicated to specific areas. For example, they cannot use capital expenditures on operations to “bridge” any gap in the budget due to problems created by COVID-19.

Martin noted that the new budget must be given to the Council by June 1 and passed by June 23. Riley said that the City will present it to the committee in late May and that at that time they will have an opportunity to make small changes and suggestions. Then that version, if any tweaks were made, will go to the full City Council in its study session.

Councilor Hugo Naifeh broached the idea of asking some of the City’s vendors for a short-term 5-10% discount on their fees to help the City cope with upcoming budgetary constraints. All attendees agreed and Riley said she would be thrilled to implement any reasonable strategies.

The next item discussed was implementing a system for annual performance evaluations of city contract employees. The committee resolved that these would be helpful for both the employees and their employer, the City Council. Widdoes said that evaluations for these executive-level employees have been done occasionally, but not regularly. Riley suggested doing them around the end or beginning of the calendar year so that any financial adjustments (for example, negotiations for benefits or contract renewals) could be made while the next fiscal year’s budget is being revised. Beyer made the point that for this year they should be done as quickly as possible so they would “flow” with the other city employees whose evaluations were just done. Then they can start a regular cycle of doing them every 18 months or so.

Widdoes concluded that the executive personnel evaluations will be performed at the committee’s next meeting on Monday, June 8, 2020, and that those results will be presented to the full City Council at their next regular meeting. The committee unanimously agreed and soon after adjourned.