Kirsten Mustain

Grove Sun

Grove City Manager Bruce Johnson reported that the city’s proposed budget has been cut by 9.3 percent for the new fiscal year at a regular city council meeting Tuesday evening.

Johnson said the cuts are necessary due to the recent six percent decrease in city sales tax, which provides 40 percent of the city’s revenue.

“Sales tax is the lifeblood of any community in Oklahoma,” Johnson said.

The city’s newly proposed budget for the general fund totals $8,201,835.00.

Johnson noted that unlike federal officials, local city officials are required to stay within their budgets.

“We are statutorily bound to have a balanced budget,” Johnson explained. “Locally we are trying to be as conservative as possible and live within our means.”

Even though the city’s budget has been cut, Johnson said that the city’s priorities, with the safety of its citizens at the top of the list, have been observed.

“We took the city’s wish list, and we compared it with projected revenues and we had a $2 million shortfall,” Johnson said. “From there we had to prioritize.”

He said the police and fire departments along with the state of the city’s streets are the top priorities.

“No police officers or firefighters have been cut,” he noted.

While every other department has had budget cuts, an increase of one percent has been proposed for the police department’s requested budget, which amounts to $1,732,200 for administration, dispatch and jail services.

In addition, the proposed budget includes $500,000 for the street overlay program – double the previous two years’ budget for street repairs.

“Broadway is at the top of our list right now,” Johnson said.

He said the original 2010-2011 budget included cutting all part-time employees from the payroll. However, that is no longer necessary, he said, due to the retirement of two people from the Buildings and Grounds Department and the resignation of an evidence clerk in the police department.

Several citizens spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting.

Peggy Miller suggested that the city could turn off half its streetlights and save on its projected $65,000 streetlight fees.

However, Dr. Larry Stout said he hoped the city would keep the lights on, particularly on Sailboat Bridge.

“I hope you will keep the lights on,” Stout said. “They are an asset to the community and good lighting is very important to safety.”

Will Winder told the council he would like to see more money go to the Grove Senior Center.

Several citizens commented that they would like to see the city spend less on amenities, like the new pool, and more on maintenance.

However, Ward II Council Member Marty Follis said Grove needs to look at the big picture, which includes drawing tourists and new residents to the area.

He said an increase in business and sales tax would mean an increase in the city’s ability to maintain its infrastructure.

“We are never going to get anywhere if we don’t grow,” Follis said.

No action was taken on the proposed budget.

Citizens may access the budget at the city’s web site.

In other business, Johnson spoke to the council about possibly changing the name of North U.S. 59.

“Normally if I get a single suggestion like that I will only discuss it with the individual who suggests it, but this has come up several times,” he said.

He said proposed new names for the stretch of highway between Leisure Lane and Sailboat Bridge include Peninsula Parkway and Pelican Lane.

Johnson also told the council that the Rose & McCrary traffic study of the area around the Upper and Lower Elementary and Early Childhood Center had been completed and that the city might create a better traffic flow in that area if it made Seventh and Tenth streets one-way.

The Grove City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month at the Grove Community Center at 6 p.m.