Stillwater News

City releases second survey on funding options for critical infrastructure projects

Released:Oct 09, 2017


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(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / Oct. 9, 2017) – For the past two months, the City of Stillwater has collected feedback about critical infrastructure projects that could be funded by a general obligation (GO) bond.
“We’ve been listening,” City Manager Norman McNickle said, “and one thing we have heard is that some of you would like us to explore the idea of a dedicated sales tax to fund the proposed transportation and stormwater/drainage improvements instead of a GO bond.”
He said the City initially wasn’t looking at a sales tax increase, but there seems to be support for one — if it is used to fix bridges, streets and stormwater drainage issues.
“There are many ways to fund public improvement,” said CFO Melissa Reames. “If we consider a dedicated sales tax for transportation and stormwater improvements, we can still pursue a GO bond to relocate Fire Station 2 and build a new Animal Welfare facility — but the amount of that bond would be closer to $13 to 15 million.”
Dedicated sales tax and GO bonds have characteristics in common. For example, both options are regressive in nature; however, they possess a dedicated-revenue stream that could be used to secure financing over a specified term. Both options could fund projects as the cash is received; however, by possessing the aspect of a dedicated-revenue stream, securing financing for projects allows the timing of projects and completion before the cash is received.
She explained that these two options are companion financing mechanisms when utilized together allowing citizens to achieve capital improvement goals in an efficient manner.
The following are pros and cons for both options:
Sales Tax Pros

  • Collected from visitors to our community who benefit from services and amenities during their visit
  • ½ cent transportation sales tax currently generates $4 million per year

Sales Tax Cons

  • Sales tax collection is a volatile tax and collections over the last three years have declined
  • Higher sales tax discourages spending

General Obligation Bonds Pros

  • Property tax is less volatile than sales tax
  • GO Bonds historically have the lowest interest rates available

General Obligation Bonds Cons

  • Approximately 30 percent of Stillwater property is exempt from ad valorem tax
  • Current GO Bond pays out in 2021

Both options require approval by the registered Stillwater voters affording our citizens a platform to voice their approval.
“As we collect your thoughts on funding community improvements, we ask that you complete the surveys listed on the City’s website,” McNickle said. “We’ve include additional information about how much sales tax another half-penny or a full penny would generate.”
For more information about sales tax, GO bonds, the City’s critical needs and how to submit your input, go to If you completed the GO bond survey that began in September, you may provide feedback on questions concerning a dedicated sales tax in another survey. The surveys will close on Nov. 30.
The City will also continue to speak at civic organizations and homeowners associations about these topics. If you would like a city representative to speak at your upcoming event, fill out a request form at  Or, call 405.742.8209 or email

For media inquiries, contact the Office of Marketing and Public Relations at 405.742.8219 or email

City of Stillwater seeks community input on critical infrastructure projects


(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / Aug. 10, 2017) – Do your part to help Stillwater identify priorities for critical infrastructure projects that could be funded by a general obligation (GO) bond. Your input will help Stillwater City Council make informed decisions about what could be on the ballot in 2018.
Earlier this year, city staff presented a list of projects to City Council as part of the budget process — which ranged from city facilities to transportation needs to quality of life enhancements to public safety needs — that could be funded by a GO bond. This list totaled $83.5 million.
“We know that it is not possible to fund all of these projects with bonds. However, before we move forward with a bond election, we need feedback from the community. We want to know which improvements you think should be funded,” City Manager Norman McNickle said.
The City recently prioritized its initial list and is seeking input on the following projects: 1) Relocate Fire Station 2 (Knoblock & University) to a different location to provide better service delivery; 2) Replace the Animal Welfare/Humane Society building; 3) Transportation improvements (streets, traffic control, bridges, sidewalks, trails, etc.); 4) Stormwater/drainage improvements.
Beginning now until the end of November, city staff will be gathering community input and providing information about how bond projects are financed and the effect this may have on property taxes.
“We also want residents to share their thoughts about how large of a bond they can support,” McNickle said. “This is one of the few ways we can fund large municipal capital projects.”
Oklahoma is the only state where municipalities rely primarily on sales tax collections to fund city government operations. This includes most of the services residents expect and depend upon — police, fire, roads, bridges and more.
Residents can go to and learn more about the 2018 GO bond election, sign up for updates and take a short survey.

Residents can also call 405.533.8525 to leave suggestions via voicemail or email
The City of Stillwater staff will also attend various public events during the next few months and are available to speak at meetings hosted by community groups or organizations. Staff will be in the lobby of the Municipal Building on the first and fifteenth of the month to meet with residents.
All data will be compiled and forwarded to City Council who authorize all expenditures and projects.
The last time Stillwater approved a City of Stillwater bond was in 2000. This 20-year bond funded the construction of the police side of the Municipal Building at 723 S. Lewis St and the remodeling of the original building.

For media inquiries, contact the Office of Marketing and Public Relations at 405.742.8219 or email

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