Mayor, council members available to meet with citizen groups
Mayor Dale Copeland announced recently that he and other members of the Bartlesville City Council will meet, upon request, with small citizen groups to hear input and ideas for the upcoming capital project elections.
The council will soon consider a City staff request to hold elections in 2020 to extend the existing Capital Improvements Projects (CIP) program and ask voters to consider approval of General Obligation Bond Issue to fund projects.
Both CIP and G.O. Bond funds are approved by voters and provide funding for the City’s capital needs, which include streets, drainage improvements, water and sewer improvements, equipment, furniture, real property, facilities and some fees such as those associated with engineering, architectural and legal issues.
“Past G.O. Bond and CIP funds have allowed Bartlesville to continue basic maintenance and repairs plus the improvements that make our hometown a great place to live,” said Copeland. “We must continue this ongoing effort or risk falling behind on critical infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.
“Our streets, some of them many decades old, are a major part of every funding effort and this time will be no different. They need repairs or replacement if we are to improve our neighborhood and business conditions. Likewise our quality of life areas — parks, pathways and sports fields — deserve our best efforts.
“There are many important pieces of this puzzle called Bartlesville and all must receive appropriate care and attention if we are to successfully fit together, thrive and grow. Sadly, the sum of all needs will probably always exceed our capacity to fund them. This makes the process of selection so vital. It should include projects ranked by need, by costs and be able to provide each area of our great city a fair share of those improvements. This is always a daunting task, but with the input and support of so many wonderful friends and neighbors we will accomplish it together. Bartlesville has much to offer and even more possibilities are on our horizon. I look forward to visiting with everyone who has interest, concern and ideas as we come together to create the map for our journey into tomorrow.”
G.O. Bond funds utilize ad valorem property tax, which are kept at approximately 15 mills to ensure no increases in taxes are necessary to fund the City’s capital needs. These funds are typically used to finance large capital improvements and allow projects to be completed in the near term as opposed to an unspecified time when cash financing might be available, as is often the case with CIP half-cent sales tax funding.
By law, for all G.O. Bond votes 70 percent of the project funding must be specified to voters on the ballot at the time of the election, while the remaining 30 percent funding is considered “discretionary” for other projects if funding is available. While not legally required, the City’s past practice has been to identify these 30 percent projects prior to the election as well. All 70 percent projects specified to voters have been completed or will be completed with G.O. Bond funding.
CIP half-cent sales tax funding, on the other hand, is a “pay as you go” system that was implemented in 1990 by voters and re-affirmed in every CIP election since. The last CIP election was held in 2013. If not renewed by voters next year, the current tax will expire June 30, 2021.
The majority of all funding for capital projects — a full 50 percent — has to date been used to repair and construct streets. The next largest allocations since 1999 are facilities (17 percent), sanitary sewer system improvements (11 percent), drainage improvements (11 percent), park improvements (10 percent) and water (1 percent).
If ultimately approved by the council, the next G.O. Bond and CIP elections will be held April 7, 2020.
Anyone interested in meeting with Copeland and/or other councilors about the city’s capital needs is encouraged to contact Executive Administrative Assistant Elaine Banes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918.338.4282 to arrange a meeting.