City of Claremore finances are healthy, says City Manager John Feary.
Feary and Mayor Bill Flanagan discussed where the city of Claremore stands during the annual State of the City address hosted by the Claremore Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re looking forward to a better year for everyone,” Flanagan said. “I’m happy to report that the budget is stable and we’ll finish the year in the black. That’s always a good deal to finish the year in the black.”
Feary said the city is required by law to maintain a certain percentage of money on hand in order to be sustainable for one month.
“I assure you we are much healthier than that,” he said. “We are in a position where, if the worst were to happen, we could sustain operations for multiple, multiple months. Know that your council, this administration and the finance department has done a very very good job at making sure that we are utilizing your tax dollars in the healthiest way we can.”
When it comes to tax dollars, Feary said the community is funded by two sources: the sales and use tax and the utility fund.
Three pennies of every dollar collected are spent on streets and infrastructure, expo and waste water treatment plant, and police, fire, park and capital expenditures.
“Regardless of how much is collected, those three pennies must be used for those three things,” he said.
“You can see that Claremore has been extremely blessed with sales tax growth and use tax growth,” he said. “We have seen an uptake even in our current budget year – even with the national economy suffering in some ways and the pandemic.”
The sales tax collected during the 2019-2020 fiscal year was $12,414,303 – a growth of over $730,000 from Fiscal Year 2018-2019.
“Our efforts, your efforts together are paying off,” he said.
Feary said the city is on track for a reduction in debt within the next nine to 10 years.
By Fiscal Year 2029, the debt will be reduced from $57,684,849 to $16,218,798.
“The city of Claremore, again, under the guidance of our mayor and finance department is really proactive in paying down debt and looking at where we will be in a fiscally responsible way over the next decade,” he said.
Looking into the future, there are many projects and plans set in motion to benefit Claremore.
One is a new communications infrastructure – which includes a countywide radio system and a second radio tower. The system will be fully implemented by July.
The projects in place for the police department include a new firing range and buildout, security fencing and resurfacing the police department and animal control parking lot.
“My commitment to both our police and fire is that every single one of them needs to go home every single shift to their families,” Feary said. “We’re going to do the things it takes to make sure they have the training and functionality.”
The fire department is set to receive a new fire engine by June and a new brush truck by December.
A few key infrastructure projects include Talbert-Sioux Transmission Mains and Lowry Regional Detention Pond.
Feary said $7 million will be dedicated to road projects over the next three years.
Those projects include expanding Frederick Road to three lanes with sidewalks and storm drainage, finish the Lake Access Road and create a pavement maintenance plan.
Feary said $5 million will be dedicated to electric projects over the next three years.
Those include reconductoring overhead lines and replacing overhead lines with underground lines.
“We will continue to grow at a good pace with more housing availability for all income levels,” Flanagan said. “We’ll continue to show good economic growth — which is to provide more jobs for your community.”