Economist says Oklahoma City's economic trends remain positive

City council members begin the process of drafting a budget for next year reviewed forecasts predicting continuing growth.
BY WILLIAM CRUM wcrum@opubco.com Published: February 13, 2013
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Oklahoma City may be in the “nascent years” of an economic transformation marked by widespread growth, an economist told the Oklahoma City Council on Tuesday.

Russell Evans offered three forecasts to council members who will set next year's spending priorities — pessimistic, baseline and optimistic — for growth in sales taxes.

The sales tax is the biggest single part of the city budget, and sales tax growth is an indicator of the city's overall economic health.

Evans' forecasts ranged from an increase of 2.6 percent to an increase of 7.1 percent for the budget year beginning July 1. His baseline came in at 4.4 percent.

Drawing on a gambling analogy, Evans said a bettor might take the “under” — pessimistic — or the “over” — optimistic.

“I would play the over,” he said, while acknowledging he might not plan around the higher figure.

Evans leads the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University. The city is paying the Institute $17,500 this year for its economic forecasting and modeling expertise.

Evans' presentation was part of a workshop for city council members who are beginning work on the fiscal 2014 budget.

Trends in personal income and manufacturing are positive, raising the question of how much better Oklahoma City could do if national economic performance improves, Evans said.

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