The week in review, and the week ahead, in Oklahoma City civic affairs.
Sales tax collections
climb 2.3 percent in
latest report period
Sales tax collections grew in the latest reporting period, up 2.3 percent over the same month a year ago but short of Oklahoma City’s target of 3.9 percent for the month. Combined with July’s strong results, “that puts us right on target through the first two months of the fiscal year,” said Doug Dowler, the city’s budget director. The check from the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the city’s general fund was $18.3 million. Sales taxes are the biggest single revenue source for the general fund, which covers day-to-day expenses for services including police and fire protection. The 2014-15 general fund totals about $415 million.
A refresher for emergency managers
An Oklahoma City contingent planned to spend this week in Emmitsburg, Md., at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Management Institute. The 70-member group will participate in a role-playing exercise, responding to a disaster scenario designed to unfold over several days. City spokeswoman Kristy Yager said the week-long session includes classroom instruction, workshops and discussion of responses to the mock disaster as it develops. Departments including the city manager’s office, police and fire, public works, utilities and finance will be represented, along with community groups such as the Red Cross and United Way, Yager said. Oklahoma City’s contingent includes Councilmen David Greenwell (Ward 5) and Pat Ryan (Ward 8). The city pays for meals at the Institute’s dining hall; other costs are covered by the federal government, Yager said.
Whitewater center options to be discussed
Advisory groups are to discuss options for the MAPS 3 whitewater center in the coming week. Construction bids came in above estimates when they were opened last month. The project will be discussed in special meetings of the MAPS 3 river advisory panel and the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board, said David Todd, the MAPS 3 project manager. The city had expected total costs of under $24 million, but the lowest bid was $37 million. Recommendations eventually will go before the city council. The whitewater center is supposed to be finished by late 2015 or early 2016. It will be on the Oklahoma River downstream from the boathouses.
Basketball floor bids come in under budget
The low bid on the Thunder’s new basketball floor was $109,670.40 by Sport Court West (sportcourtwest.com), about $90,000 under what the city had set aside for the project. The new floor will replace the Thunder’s original floor from 2008. Plans call for it to be installed by Sept. 30. The city got two bids — Robbins Sports Surfaces offered to construct and install the floor for $123,750. Robbins says on its website that it has built the floors for 21 of the past 25 NBA champions. Robbins built a new floor unveiled this summer with a honeycomb design for the Charlotte Hornets. The city council will make the final decision on the contract for the Thunder’s court.
By the numbers
7: Weeks since the Oklahoma County jail kitchen has been inoperable because of a collapsed sewer line.
2,500: Approximate number of Oklahoma County jail inmates being fed out of a portable kitchen installed on a loading dock.
Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, discussing the jail with The Oklahoman’s reporter Graham Brewer: “We can’t continue with this facility. It’s pathetic.”
Tweet of the week
Oklahoma County jail faces budget woes as state offenders migrate to #prisons http://okne.ws/1omo3aC by yours truly.
They said it
“In theory, there is no effect on the city because the state makes a payment to us based on a formula to account for the loss of revenue for the weekend. In reality we don’t know how big the sales were so we don’t know whether there is an impact or not.”
— Budget Director Doug Dowler, on the Aug. 1-3 sales tax holiday and its impact on Oklahoma City’s budget. Oklahoma cities rely to a large degree on sales taxes to fund day-to-day operations.
The city council is on its summer schedule and did not meet last week.
The city council meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 200 N Walker Ave. A proposal to increase water rates is up for discussion.
From the community survey
In Oklahoma City’s latest citizen survey, 64.8 percent of those who responded said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of police service.