By Terry Groover
Yukon city employees likely won’t see any type of cost-of-living pay hikes in the next year, but the city also isn’t expecting to reduce its staff, City Manager Jim Crosby said this week.
Crosby said the city staff is finalizing its nearly $46 million budget for fiscal year 2018, and plans to present it to the Yukon City Council during budget hearings on May 24-25.
Crosby said the proposed budget is about $1.5 million less than the current year, and is following a trend that continues to include a tightened budget.
“Our sales tax is down about 4 ¼ percent,” Crosby said.
For May, Yukon received $1,764,721.84 in sales tax returns. That is down from $1,799,895.79, according to a report released last week by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
Crosby said the decline was expected, and was budgeted for.
“We’re not happy about it, but most people in the metropolitan area are down. It’s about the same as we projected,” he said.
Crosby said with no major retail expansion on the horizon, the city also isn’t budgeting for large increases in the coming year’s budget, either.
Crosby said the city is expecting a number of new businesses, but the change financially is not likely to be significant.
“We’re not going to have much of an increase in our budget,” he said.
When an audit in 2015 discovered that Yukon’s general fund was nearly depleted, it forced the city to make significant cuts, including cutting 42 positions. It also meant that some projects were put on the back burner. Most of those projects will have to wait for better economic times, Crosby said.
“The economy is just not there right now to go out and begin a lot of projects,” he said.
Crosby said the majority of proposed capital improvement projects for 2018 will involve roadways, including some that are partially funded by state monies. Among those is the creation of an access point at Frisco Road and Interstate 40.
The project is not expected to be completed for several years, but the preliminary work is now underway.
Road projects involving expansion and relocation of Vandament as well as work on State Highway 66 also are expected to occur over the next two years.
Crosby said the city is rebounding from the financial issues that it previously faced, has an emergency fund balance of almost $2 million. That is pretty low, Crosby said, pointing out that he would prefer to have at least $5 million in the city’s rainy day fund.
It wouldn’t take much of an emergency to wipe out the fund, he said, pointing out that there always are surprises when it comes to projects.
“It (the budget) is still tight. … We’re building our reserves back. They weren’t depleted overnight and it will take a while to rebuild them. They are on the rebound and we want to keep those reserves building,” he said.
Crosby said he does see things brightening up for Yukon.
“It’s kind of like the economy is trying to rebound. … It’s not roses everywhere, and I think it will take another year or so before things turn around,” Crosby said.