Mustang’s proposed fiscal year 2021-2022 budget is “better than balanced.”
City Manager Tim Rooney said the eighth budget he has done became surplus, due to officials estimating a 10% increase in health care costs for employees. The costs came in lower at 7%.
The proposed budget of the Mustang Impro-vement Authority and the general fund is approximately $88.9 million.
“I think in a lot of ways, a surplus budget is a little more difficult because when you don’t have money, it’s very easy to go through and determine what priorities are,” Rooney said.
When you have $10 to go to dinner, options are limited, however, there is more to choose from when you have $50, he said.
“We always try to make decisions based on what the citizens want,” Rooney added.
Whenever the pandemic hit, Rooney said more people started shopping locally, which he encourages, as that pays for areas, like police and fire. The city also froze nonessential spending.
He anticipates they will also freeze some accounts for the first several months of the next fiscal year.
“We want to make sure that the trajectory we’re on continues and isn’t a COVID hangover,” Rooney said. “Predicting your revenues is always somewhat throwing a dart at the wall.”
MPD body cams to be purchased
Body cameras for Mustang police will be purchased from the current budget. The department has rece-ived a $10,000 grant to help pay the equipment total of $91,000.
Rooney said a large chunk of the cost is data storing from the cameras of 28 officers.
Sales tax from dispensaries is ‘supplemental’
Although the state does not allow municipalities to release individual sales tax of medical marijuana dispensaries, the combined total is provided. In April, all the dispensaries in Mustang had a sales tax of $11,800.
If the sales tax check was around that amount each month, the city would make about $120,000.
“It’s not a huge cash cow, but it certainly is a supplement to the budget,” Rooney said.
Public transportation still available through city partnership
In 2019, Embark, an Oklahoma public transit agency, came to the City of Mustang with a proposal to offer rides to older adults and people with disabilities. Rooney said in the about three years that the agreement has been in place, only several people have taken rides.
He attributed the lack of participation to the pandemic, as well as the popularity of ride services, like Uber and Lyft. When it was approved, the council was unsure how many people would utilize the rides, Rooney said.
The program, known as Share-A-Fare, provides 52 trip subsidies per year for $4 to each qualifying person. When the council approved the program, they recommended 50 people be the maximum amount allowed to participate to limit the financial impact on the city to $10,650.
To qualify for the program, individuals must be 60 or older or have a disability that can be confirmed by a health professional.
They must also reside in Mustang.
Embark will take residents wherever they need to go throughout Mustang, as well as to Oklahoma City by appointment. Residents can receive Embark’s application by calling 405-235-7433.
Registration for the program must be renewed by phone following receipt of a renewal written notice from the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority. The notices will be mailed to participants every March.
Although very few people have participated in the rides, Rooney does not anticipate the city ending the program, as it does not cause a financial strain on the budget.
If there was more participation, the city’s Hotel/Motel Tax of 5% would fund it.
Older citizens can also receive occasional rides from the Active Adults Center. For more information, contact the center’s coordinator Ashley Patten at email@example.com.
City standing by for FEMA, state reimbursements
Mustang has been updated weekly from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that they’re waiting on funds. Rooney anticipates nine months until they receive the funds to cover about 75% of the damage from the October 2020 ice storms.
Debris pick-up cost more than $5 million.
The city has not heard back from the state about paying 12.5% of the damage. It typically takes about three years to receive state funding, Rooney said.
Regarding the February winter storms, the city did not sustain significant damage, he added. The pool at the aquatic center had some pipes break.
Signage to help guide residents
Residents can expect more signage around the Mustang Town Center, Wild Horse Park and more with the proposed budget. At least four directional signs will help people find City Hall and navigate their way around the trails at Wild Horse, Rooney said.
Parks and Rec to receive new structures
One of the major developments in the budget is a Spray and Play water area for $85,000. Parks and Recreation Director Jean Heasley said it would be the city’s first in more than 20 years.
Fitness enthusiasts can enjoy an outdoor classroom, complete with a covered turf area and permanent equipment, like a pull-up bar for $39,000 in the proposed budget, as well.
Every year, the Parks department does their best to rotate through improvements for each of the city’s parks, Rooney said. Meadows Park is one that would receive a recreation trail, five covered benches, 20 lights and two bridges that traverse a creek for $282,480 through a Community Block Grant.
The grant, which is from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be matched from the city to fund Meadows’ construction.
Heights Park will also receive a playground for $35,000.
Lighting is another addition Heasley would like to see. Aerial LED lights for $26,000 are needed at Brittany’s Play Adventure for people to feel safe at night.
A restroom for $28,000 would also be constructed near Brittany’s for more convenience. The football field would require lighting for $160,000, as well.
A sound and paging system for $24,000 inside the Town Center would also help with announcements and emergencies should one arise.
Animal shelter, Wild Horse to receive paving
Half of the gravel parking lot in front of the new Animal Welfare Center will expectedly be paved for $140,000. More parking will also be looked at for $17,000 at Wild Horse.
“With shortages in asphalt and concrete, as a result of COVID, how much we’re actually going to be able to do will be interesting,” Rooney said. “We’re going to do as much as we can.”
The city has plans to pave the entire lot in the future. Funds from the city’s welcome signs were directed to signage at the welfare center for $15,000.
Eventually, Rooney said the city would like to have welcome signs at each entrance into Mustang. Currently there are three — one on Mustang Road and two on State Highway 152.
The Oklahoma Environmental Management Authority, which collects the city’s trash, will be housed in the older animal welfare center building to monitor where debris is hauled to the Public Works yard.
There will be a public hearing about the budget during the city council meeting at 7 p.m. June 1. The council will then vote on the budget.
“I just try to make sure we’re transparent,” Rooney said. “It’s (the citizens’) money. Not ours.”