Council OKs operations, CIP, BDA budgets

The Bartlesville City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve budgets for the 2019-20 fiscal year, including funding for the city’s operations and Capital Improvements Program. The vote came after a lengthy presentation was made last week during a workshop meeting.

The Sales Tax Estimate for the upcoming year is ‘flat,” or very conservative, to reflect a lack of increase in projected sales tax revenues. But some new items included in the FY 2019-20 operating budget include hiring two police officers for traffic enforcement and neighborhood crime reduction focus; increasing funding for CityRide, the City’s public transportation system, by $10,000 for a total of $55,000 annually; $40,000 for a roof grant program; and pay increases for City employees.

Police to implement body-worn camera, dash-cam system

The budget also includes $165,000 for 55 cameras — 30 body-worn and 25 dash-mounted — for police officers and patrol vehicles. The bulk of this funding was added after the workshop meeting and the initial presentation of the budget. City Manager Mike Bailey said initial plans were to phase the purchase in using current and future funding sources, but that a recent officer-involved shooting prompted efforts to speed up the process.

“We have been working to implement a body-worn camera program since (last year),” Bailey told the council Monday. “They had selected the system and were ready to make the purchases — in fact, we do have some of them that we’re demoing right now — so we’re ready to move forward with that.”

Bailey said approximately $200,000 is needed to implement the program and that some money is available through grant funding and existing budget appropriations. He said the bulk of the funding could have been included in future CIP or General Obligation Bond election requests, but that capital funds were left unappropriated in the FY 2019-20 budget for “an unforeseen event” that could be used to implement the system now rather than later.

“We were taking a deliberate and phased approach to implementing this, but in light of what’s happened in the last weekend the chief and I would like to move up the timeline on this,” Bailey said. “There were some capital funds that we had not budgeted for, that were essentially being left for an unforeseen event. Frankly, I think this qualifies. We anticipated the unforeseen event would happen during the fiscal year, but in this case it happened right before adoption of the budget.

“We want to ensure that the public and our officers are protected at all times, and I think this is a great way to get to the bottom of things rather quickly. This is something we’ve been working on for a while, and this (budget appropriation) would allow us to go ahead and complete it this fiscal year.”

Bailey said the purchase can be made quickly, though it is unknown how long it will take to outfit the vehicles with dash-cams and implement the body-worn camera system.

4th of 5 planned utility rate increases go into effect July 1

The next in a series of utility rate increases approved by the City Council in 2016 will go into effect on July 1.

Utility customers can expect to see an increase in water rates over last year. The increases were approved after a 2014-15 study revealed additional funds were need to sufficiently support the operations of the system. New capital fees were also implemented to support mandatory improvements to the system, and a new inclining block rate structure was added to encourage conservation.

“For the average utility billing customer who uses about 6,000 gallons of water per month, it’s going to be a seven percent increase,” CFO/City Clerk/Treasurer Jason Muninger told the council Monday.

Street, sewer projects on tap for CIP, CRF funds, investment fees

The City’s Capital Improvements Program fund is provided through the half-cent sales tax voted on by Bartlesville residents every seven years. The last election was held in 2013. Funds in the amount of $3.4 million are available for the 2019-20 fiscal year. Staff has identified and the council on Monday approved projects totaling $3.1 million.

Projects and equipment set for CIP funding next year are:

  • $2.2 million for Hillcrest Drive Rehabilitation project
  • $210,000 for police fleet replacement vehicles
  • $700,000 for preventative street maintenance
  • $25,000 for facility and building upgrades
  • $7,378 to update citywide aerials

Revenues from Capital Investment Fees, which were implemented in 2016, are used to fund capital projects related to utilities such as water, sanitation and waste water. Several ongoing projects are funded with these fees in addition to the Capital Reserve Fund.

Some of these projects include:

  • Sanitary sewer line replacement along Turkey Creek west from U.S. Highway 75 ($90,000 for engineering design)
  • Wastewater reuse system ($3 million)
  • Expanding Water Utilities building ($1.5 million)

Wood: BDA focus on primary job recruitment, expansion

The Bartlesville City Council is also tasked with overseeing funding for the Bartlesville Development Authority, the economic development arm of the City. Money for this program is provided via the voter-approved quarter-cent economic development sales tax. The Bartlesville Convention & Visitors Bureau, which promotes tourism to the area, is also funded through the BDA budget.

BDA President David Wood said Monday the community has “recovered well” following job losses associated with the closing/relocation of Sitel, Walmart Claims and Seimens thanks to several existing companies — including Sedgwick Claims Management, DSR and ABB — working to expand their facilities and/or their employee base. Sedgwick Claims Management has increased its employee count to about 250 while DSR recently purchased the former Walmart Claims building, and ABB has hired 90 new employees and “is in growth mode,” Wood said.

Locally, he said, some newer companies have taken steps toward growth as well, such as Phillips Precision Machine, which in constructing a new facility at the Bartlesville Industrial Park; Custom Molding Services, which recently purchased a new facility; and SMC, which recently purchased 40 acres at the Sunset Industrial Park.

Wood said the BDA is currently focusing on primary job recruitment and expansion following successful retail expansion with the Silver Lake Village shopping development, located on Adams Boulevard east of Silver Lake Road. He said the BDA is working to match companies that may be candidates for sale and relocation with area investors.

“Outreach to more than 200 Illinois-based manufacturers is now underway, and we’ll know in six months if this tactic has merit,” he said.

Wood also said the CVB “had an exceptional year,” fueled partially by the success of the Pioneer Woman development in the neighboring town of Pawhuska.

“Since there are very few hotels in Pawhuska, we benefit from that,” he said. “The CVB estimates $675,000 in net revenues were added to the city coffers — attributable only to CVB sponsors and group tours. So with a total tax supported funding of $320,000, the CVB’s direct return on investment for Fiscal Year 2018-19 was 111 percent, compared with 94 percent last year.”

Funding for the BDA is included in the 2019-20 budget in the amount of $888,000 with $291,000 carry-over funding. In a separate agenda item, the council also voted to extend the contract between the City and the BDA into the next fiscal year.

Budget goes into effect July 1

A public hearing was held during the meeting; no citizens turned out to speak on the issue. The new budget goes into effect July 1.

“The budget process for a city of our size, as you can imagine is somewhat involved and runs several hundred pages,” said Mayor Dale Copeland. “But good planning allows good execution and that has been the case for a number of years. It’s the reason our city remains strong. I appreciate all the work that goes into this.”

To view the budget in its entirety, see www.cityofbartlesville.org.