City Manager's Corner

Hello Choctaw!

This year’s budget was one of the more challenging I have had in my 35 years working government budgets, and the most challenging since arriving in Choctaw in 2017. Earlier this year Choctaw staff developed a proposed 2020/2021 City and Utilities Authority budget and presented them to City Council and the public on 7 May. Based on feedback from Council at that workshop, staff developed a final budget proposal, and presented that on 2 Jun. At that meeting Council passed the City and Utilities Authority budgets by 7 – 0 vote.

Budget workshops are a great way for the public to get a peek at Council and Staff discussing the mechanics of funding for the City, and to be actively involved in the most important task your Council engages in each year. These meetings are always open to the public for comments and input. The public can review the minutes and/or watch the Zoom video for both the 7 May and 2 Jun meetings (As well as others) at https://mychoctaw.org/AgendaCenter.

The following are some important takeaways from this year’s budget process: 1) The City intends for there to be no furloughs or lay-offs this budget cycle, but did decide to freeze pay and positions, and to limit capital expenditures to emergency repairs only. 2) The City is planning for a 10% decrease in both sales and use tax to revenue over last year. 3) All City department had to cut expenditures appropriately to meet their respective funding goals and revenue projections. 4) With new financial software in place, Department Heads now have more control and say over their budgets, making for more accurate management at every level of City governance. 5) An independent audit led to a proposed, and ultimately approved, update to the Choctaw Utility Authority (CUA) fee schedule (See previous Managers Corner for audit details). 6) City staff will closely monitor and evaluate budget execution through December and if the COVID emergency eases and revenues stay steady, staff will prepare a proposed budget amendment to present to Council at that time.

Below are a few of the more common utility usage examples in Choctaw. The examples give you an idea of how much your utility bill may increase. Also remember, utility bills will be a bit higher in the Summer due to higher usage.

5,000 gal./month acct. Residential

Current                                             Proposed                        Change

52.73 Water/Sewer                             74.25                            21.52

2.56 Storm water                                 3.50                               0.94

1.56 Drainage                                     2.50                                0.94

15.64 Sanitation                                 19.00                               3.36

_____________                                 _______                         _______

72.49                                                   99.25                              26.76



3,000 gal./month acct. Senior


Current                                                    Proposed                       Change

31.80 Water/Sewer                                  45.50                               13.70

2.56 Stormwater                                       3.50                                  0.94

1.56 Drainage                                           2.50                                  0.94

11.73 Sanitation                                      15.00                                  3.27

_____________                                    _______                              _______

47.65                                                      66.50                                    18.85



10,000 gal./month acct. Residential


Current                                                        Proposed                      Change

91.23 Water/Sewer                                       118.00                            26.77

2.56 Storm water                                              3.50                             0.94

1.56 Drainage                                                   2.50                             0.94

15.64 Sanitation                                            19.00                               3.36

_____________                                           _______                        _______

110.99                                                             143.00                             32.01                      


There are a lot of great things going on in Choctaw right now despite all the upheaval in the news. We are trying something a bit new this year with the Independence Day celebration. Even though the City portion will be scaled back significantly this year to accommodate budget cuts, your Parks and Recreation team came through with some alternative plans. Tanner McGuire and his team coordinated a Carnival in the Park, topped off by fireworks from Rudy. The celebration will last from 1 - 4 July. For more details and times check out the City Facebook page and website.

Chief of Police Kelly Marshall has started some community outreach through a program called “Coffee with the Chief.” She will make herself available to Choctaw residents to chat and have coffee at places around Choctaw. The first “Coffee with the Chief” will take place beginning at 7:00 am on 30 June at Harley’s Café. Stay connected to the City Facebook page for future dates and locations.

I have received many inquiries about when the Best Western Plus, under construction next to Walmart, will be open for business. I am pleased to report that after recently speaking with the Project Manager, it is projected that the Hotel will be complete in September and open for business in October. This business will be a great addition to Choctaw and important in supporting the Eastern Oklahoma County Tech Center and other City activities.

It is great to see that citizens are taking advantage of the Bulk Waste Program that we transitioned to the last year! I think the secret is out. Even if you place more than 3 cubic yards of bulk (tree trash), the surcharge is cheaper than a tree service coming out and hauling it away for you. Program use has become so great the sanitation contractor is asking customers to put no more than 9 cubic yards at a time, and to save anything above that for your next pick-up. The drivers are having trouble keeping up with the extra demand. Thank you for using the service to the full extent!

We recently had a small but impactful change at City Hall. You’ll notice new awnings at the entrance to the Main building and annex. These awnings will provide a bit of shade and cover for some of the extreme weather conditions we have in Choctaw and, as an added bonus, the front lobby will not flood during torrential downpours.

Have a Happy 4th and enjoy the hot weather. Please remember the City is still under a state of emergency due to COVID – 19. Protect yourself when in public with a mask, and physical distancing.

Respectfully,

Ed Brown