Despite slumping sales tax returns, Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby said the city is prospering.
“We’re in very good shape,” Crosby told members of the Yukon Chamber of Commerce during his annual state of the city remarks.
Crosby said the city’s finances are running about 20 percent ahead of where they were a year ago.
He pointed out that the city’s reserve funds currently have about $6 million. Three years ago, it was nearly zero.
“That’s growing and things are going quite well,” he said.
One area the city focuses on is the economic forecast.
Sales tax revenues have dipped for each of the last seven months after going almost 18 months with increases.
Crosby said he expects the sales tax to continue to dip at least a little bit over the next year.
“All you have to do is look across 10th Street and see what is happening in Oklahoma City. They are building a lot of retail and a lot of people go there and utilize those things. We understand. This is going to affect us a little bit in the future, but like I said, we’re going to have a sound budget and we’re going to move forward,” he said.
Crosby mentioned that Yukon’s claims to be one of the safest cities in the state were proven true earlier this month when a national organization listed Yukon as the third safest city in Oklahoma. He said much of that is the result of the work of the Yukon Police Department.
Meanwhile, the fire department also has a strong reputation.
More than 85 percent of their calls are medical related, and firefighters often arrive before the emergency medical technicians.
He also praised the public works and utilities departments.
“We have a lot of projects going on that are important to the city,” he said.
One of those projects includes the relocation of utilities along State Highway 4 as officials prepare to replace three bridges with a single bridge near Wilshire Boulevard.
That project, which is the first of three projects designed to improve safety of the highway, is expected to be awarded this fall.
The second project will widen the highway to four lanes between Main Street and Wagner Road.
The third phase of the project will be done by Oklahoma City, and will improve the roadway from Wilshire to Northwest Expressway.
“It will enhance us when it is completed,” Crosby said, pointing out that traffic on the highway increased after the Kilpatrick Turnpike was constructed. Now, more than 1,200 new homes are being planned for that area over the next several years.
“Those people are coming through Yukon every day,” he said.
The other major road project that is being developed, Crosby said, is the Frisco Road interchange with Interstate 40.
Crosby said that project is expected to be awarded early next year and will take just over a year to complete.
Crosby said land adjacent to that project is the major developable land still available in Yukon.
He expects to see substantial retail and commercial interest in the property that is nearby.
Crosby said the city is working hand-in-hand with the Yukon Chamber of Commerce to try to determine what types of businesses should be sought for the area.
“It is something you have to look at … name brands. There aren’t a lot of mom and pop-type big restaurants opening right now,” he said. “These are the types of we’re trying to meet and negotiate with. To spark an interest to come to our community for our future.”
Another concern, he said, is water and how much it costs.
“Right now, we’re married to Oklahoma City for water,” he said.
Interestingly, Yukon will soon be selling water to Oklahoma City.
That’s because Yukon will be responsible for providing the water supply to both sides of Frisco Road. Oklahoma City doesn’t have infrastructure in place to provide its own to the area.
“We’re concerned about water and water rates in the future,” he said.
The city is looking at its options for future water, although there is no quick or cheap fix.
One solution could be the possibility of drilling shallow wells or possibly working with other communities, such as Bethany. But any of the options will be expensive, Crosby said.
Crosby said Yukon’s future is dependent on what the public wants it to be.
“We have the second highest income of any city in the metropolitan area. … We’re a very desirable community, but unless we know what the people want, we cannot serve that and try to get those people to come and meet those needs,” he said.