Crosby speaks on State of the City

City Manager Jim Crosby spoke on the State of the City as the guest speaker for Yukon Chamber of Luncheon on Thursday.
Crosby started his speech by letting attendees know he’d be talking about where the city has been and where it’s going in the future.
“I’ve gotten a lot of questions from people. Of course I think everybody knows that last January the city was in dire straits and pretty broke, and now they’re wanting to know if we’re going to make it through the next fiscal year at the end,” Crosby said.
Crosby recognized Assistant City Manager Tammy DeSpain for stepping up to make necessary changes to help the city.
He also mentioned how the City of Yukon cut 42 positions, but that he does not see any more layoffs happenings.
“One of the things we’re doing is trying to reestablish the citizens’ trust with the Council,” Crosby said. “We always say without trust is like a cell phone without service—all you do is play games.”
Crosby talked about how Council members are shown an accurate budget every month to review and ask any questions they may have. He said when he came in 2016 there was only $500 in the Reserve Fund.
“We have rebuilt all of our accounts,” he said.
Crosby said for example, the Public Employee Safety account was down to $3,000, but he thinks most of the accounts are up to $800,000 or $300,000 in those accounts, and the Reserve is up to $2 million.
“We’ve made a lot of cuts, but we’re doing well,” he said.
Sales tax is still down, but that’s normal for the whole state, Crosby said, adding that Oklahoma City recently cut 39 positions due to sales tax being so low.
“Sales tax is critical to cities. For cities in Oklahoma, we have a 55 percent reliance on sales tax on average – some cities go to 60 or 70 percent. We’re the only state in the nation that forces cities to use sales tax to fund its government,” Crosby said.
Last month the city was down $530,000 in sales tax, and although it’s bad, the city is still in the positive and are building their Reserve Fund.
Crosby credited internet sales as part of the problem with sales tax being down, also mentioning that next month Oklahoma will begin collecting sales tax from Amazon and the City of Yukon “will see how it goes” on how it will affect individual cities and what percentage they’ll get.
“We’ve lost a lot of sales and this isn’t going to change. People are going to be buying on the internet. It’s more convenient—they deliver to your door. It increased I think 40 percent, I think they said, in this last year so you see how this is a growing industry to be concerned about,” Crosby said.
Crosby mentioned big box stores who are closing because of internet sales.
“Everything is changing and we’re going to have to change with it,” Crosby said. “We’ll have to bring in types of businesses that help support that.
“We do bring in chicken places here. I jokingly say Garth Brooks will soon be ‘Chicken Strip.’ They really don’t bring in that much sales tax and business for the community. We’re glad to have them, but then again, you only need so much certain types of restaurants.”
He also brought up water rates going up and how people questions what is going on with the bills. Oklahoma City is doing “a lot of improvements to their water,” Crosby said, “so they pay more by raising our rates.”
Crosby said they raised Yukon’s water rates 56 percent in three years.
Last year Yukon used about 85 percent of the water from Oklahoma City, but Yukon should only be using about 55 percent from Oklahoma City and the rest from Yukon’s water wells.
“But we’re moving forward with that,” Crosby said. “The only bad news with that is that in the next three or four years our rates are going to go up 44 percent. They guaranteed us a 100 percent raise in order to fund improvements.”
Crosby did add some positives that are happening in the community, including moving forward with some plans in the near future.
The first is that there will be “major improvements” on Highway 4. They’ll be tearing out the three bridges that are currently there and building just one bridge. The road will move a little to the left and it’ll be finished by 2023, Crosby said.
The next item is the interchange of Interstate 40 and Frisco Road, which will help a lot of business, he added. The area will include a new waterpark and hotel that a “gentleman” is building that will be similar to Great Wolf Lodge, which will be sales tax for Oklahoma City, but Yukon is proposing a Sports Park to be built adjacent to the waterpark and hotel that will be in Yukon.
One attendee questioned the waterpark and hotel and who the sales tax would belong to so Crosby clarified and confirmed it would go to Oklahoma City, but that he thinks the waterpark would bring more people into Yukon.
Crosby also added that the Sports Park would bring a lot of teams and families into Yukon and would really benefit the city.
The proposed Sports Park would need an $18 million bond for Phase I, which includes nine outdoor soccer fields, spectator seating, scoreboards, concessions, restroom facilities, maintenance facilities, landscaping, sidewalks, parking lots and the widening of Frisco Road. Crosby said if more money is left over then they will begin work on the other sports’ fields.
The bond of $18 million for the proposed Sports Park is being put to a vote of the people in a Special Election on March 7.
The positive impact on Yukon would be ensuring a thriving community through economic growth, invests in Yukon’s future, connects people to the community and benefits all Yukon residents, provides great new facilities for children to play in, enhances Yukon’s park system with additional local amenities and adds to the quality of life in the community, according to a pamphlet on Preposition I given to attendees at the Luncheon.
“Vote yes for Yukon,” the pamphlet reads.
Crosby said this is really critical for Yukon because people don’t realize how many people play soccer then stay at Yukon hotels and eat in Yukon.
“It would generate a lot of income for the city,” he added.
Crosby ran out of time during the Chamber Luncheon, but he said Yukon looks to be in good financial shape.
For anyone who has any questions about the State of the City of the Sports Park, contact Crosby at jcrosby@cityofyukonok.gov or call 350-3939.

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