City Manager's Corner
CITY MANAGER’S CORNER
From City Hall, we hope everyone enjoys an abundant Thanksgiving and Christmas and we look forward to another successful New Year. As you can read in the bulletin, the City has a few events focused on the holiday. Please take some time to enjoy Christmas in Choctaw.
Now is the time to talk about The Vision for Choctaw in the coming year: “Living in a great city is not just a right, it is a responsibility.” What does this really mean, responsibility? There are many ways in which to exercise your responsibility, especially in local government.
It your responsibility to participate—and work to improve Choctaw rather than drag it down. Find out what good is going on in your City. You may attend council, chamber, board, or commission meetings, they are great places to start--and all open to the public—to see how your government works. You could get involved directly by volunteering, there are always openings. Your council, board, commission, and staff have made the choice of public service—service before self, to serve the community. This is a big deal, a great commitment, and should be recognized as such; it is not easy work. At a minimum, if you do not have time to participate, stay informed. Informed voters are key to great cities!
An even greater responsibility is to stay informed. This requires more than just your personal Facebook news feed. What newspapers or periodicals do you actually read? Think about where you get your news. Is your information from a primary source or from an entity interpreting the information, pleasing to your ears, or strictly agreeing with your point of view? Responsible citizens gather information from multiple sources to understand an issue before they exercise their right to vote. In today’s society however, we can easily fall victim to negativity, contempt, and demonization, which is often divisive, instead of looking for some common ground that will make a city or local government better. High-performing cities have responsibly engaged citizens.
Finally, the most basic responsibility is to vote. Each vote at the local government level carries a great deal of weight, in that just one vote can make the difference between a proposition passing or a candidate winning a race. In the last Choctaw election, Ward 1 was won by 2 or 3 votes!
It is also your responsibility to obey the law. I am not talking just the major stuff. Think about building code, municipal code, trash pickup, hazardous waste dumping, driving, etc. We all, even council members, obey the same laws and policies we implement. There can be no perception of special treatment anymore.
In regards to the Bulk Waste issue, the City of Choctaw implemented a monthly bulk waste pickup for residents in September 2018 for an additional $1 per month to utility accounts carrying sanitation service. Previous to the change, bulk pickup was scheduled every 6 months, was very time consuming, and quite frankly, cost-prohibitive to continue. Bulk Waste pickup is a fee-for-service program covered under the Choctaw Utilities Authority. Why is this important to know? It is funded strictly through revenue generated from the utility accounts alone, not from Sales Tax. The move to the monthly program is a great improvement over the semi-annual bulk service.
As with any program, there are growing pains, questions, and tweaks that can be made to make the program better. We understand issues such as missed pickups, bulk trash out on the wrong day or week, bulk waste in excess of the cubic yard guidelines, or not properly bundled. Most of these issues can be resolved by contacting City Hall. In the past, the carrier left a warning as to why the bulk waste was not picked up. Not picking up the bulk waste creates problems with trash in the right-of-ways and becomes a nuisance to neighbors and other residents. To address the issues of bulk waste in excess of the 3 cubic yards or unbundled tree waste not being picked up, the City adopted procedures similar to Oklahoma City and Oklahoma County. On September 16th, 2019, the Choctaw Utilities Authority adopted Resolution 19-33, amending the fee schedule to allow for the pickup of and the charge of fees for bulk waste exceeding the set pickup guidelines. The amended fee schedule allows for the fees to be assessed on a customer’s regular monthly utility statement: You can view the amended Fee Schedule on our website at https://mychoctaw.org/DocumentCenter/View/1041/Utilities_FY-19-20-PDF. Waste Connections Professionals will be responsible for ascertaining amounts to be charged and will communicate those assessments to the City Hall Utilities Department for inclusion on the next regular monthly statement. We understand residents have also reported unauthorized individuals dumping extra bulky waste on top of waste already placed. This is illegal dumping, and the City will work with residents on a case-by-case basis as they report such issues. For more information regarding Bulk Waste or the new Fee Schedule you can also always contact the Choctaw Utilities Department at 405.390.8198.