Economic Recovery: City Plans & Actions


Updates on closing out several capital projects

Wednesday, May 18, 2020 

Several capital projects are complete and ready to be closed out. By formally closing these projects, the remaining budget balances can be returned to fund balance and used for future appropriation or to meet other cash flow needs of the fund.

This return of funds equates to $829,921 across several city funds and $817,993 across several SUA funds.


Updates on utility payments & City partnerships

Wednesday, May 6, 2020 

Discussion to end suspension for utility bill nonpayment
At the upcoming May 18 Stillwater Utilities Authority Meeting, the trustees will vote to update the terms and conditions regarding the temporary suspension of disconnects for nonpayment of utility bills, which went into place during the initial phase of the pandemic. City of Stillwater customers are encouraged to set up payment plans and to look for other financial assistance. To contact Utility and Billing Services, call  405.742.8245 or email utilitypayments@stillwater.org.  Also, Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) is making changes to the current Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) to help eligible Oklahomans pay their utility bills. Find out more about this program at http://www.okdhslive.org/.

Discussions to renew certain Public-Private Partnership/Service Contracts

At the previous two city council meetings, the council has been asked to look updating contracts with the City’s public-private partnerships and service agreements. They stressed that it was important to protect City assets like Lakeside Memorial Golf Course. Lake McMurtry indicated it would be able to fulfill its mission without additional funding. Stillwater Area Sports Association’s (SASA) contract will include $26,000 with a July 1 start date. Service contracts for Visit Stillwater and Stillwater Chamber of Commerce were renewed for FY21. The trustees felt it was important to continue investing in economic development. Visit Stillwater is funding through the collection of the hotel/motel tax. Payment to Visit Stillwater is contingent upon the tax collection.


View Notice for Adopted Budget for  FY21 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020 | Finance Director Christy Cluck

Click to see and download the Adopted Budget Fiscal Year 21

The FY21 proposed budget was created before the COVID-19 pandemic began. As a result, the City anticipates frequent amendments to adjust for changes in revenue as the pandemic situation evolves. The final adoption vote for the Fiscal Year 2021 budget will be held on May 18.

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'The City is sitting in a good position at the end of the 3rd Quarter'

Monday, April 20, 2020 | Finance Director Christy Cluck

This is the last quarterly report before the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Revenues and expenditures were on target to meet projections.
  • Sales tax collection was healthy and stable.
  • Use tax collection was above projections, which resulted in the recentl\y approved budget amendment of $900,000.
  • Utility revenue was in line with meeting projections.

The City is sitting in a good position at the end of the 3rd Quarter. This should be reassuring to all in this post-COVID situation. Instead of having to rectify a gap in revenue or dealing with expenditures that don’t align with appropriations, city staff can focus their time and energy  looking forward and seeking solutions to offset future loses that is predicted

Staff will continue to work through the impacts of COVID-19 and will bring budgetary actions before city council as needed.

Next step is the council will be asked to pass a resolution adopting the budget at the May 18 meeting.

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City of Stillwater Looks at Economic Impacts of Pandemic

MEDIA RELEASE

(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / April 16, 2020) –  The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are already shaping up to be significant for the county, the state and Stillwater.

Mayor Will Joyce’s first Emergency Declaration was issued on March 15, 2020. This proclamation closed some city facilities and meetings, limited in-person gatherings, and called for restrictions that applied to restaurants and the personal services industry.

Since then, several more local and state proclamations have called for additional or extended restrictions. Oklahoma State University closed the campus after spring break and moved to online classes resulting in many students leaving town.  Stillwater Public Schools also close and moved to online classes for the remainder of the semester.

City Revenue

With large segments of the economy, including businesses that generate sales tax, shut down to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, the City of Stillwater’s revenues are most likely going to decline sharply. In Oklahoma, sales tax is the largest source of recurring revenue for municipalities. In Stillwater, 58% of the general fund (which is used pay for public safety, parks, street and sidewalk projects, library, and more) is from sales tax collection.

The question is by how much.

City Manager Norman McNickle estimates that the City could lose as much as $12 to $18 million in sales tax, which is ¾ of the City’s General Fund. “However, we don’t know at this time,” he said. Also, sales and use tax collection lag. For example, sales tax spent on a purchase in March is reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in April and remitted to the City of Stillwater in May.

In addition to the possible decline in sales tax, the City is also looking at its electric utility sales. “We rely on profit made from the utility usage; if usage is down, so is our revenue.  It will be a while before we know if people are using more or less electricity at home. We do know local manufacturing is slowing down.”

Budget Schedule

Before COVID-19 pandemic, the City was in the middle of its annual process to develop the FY21 budget, which begins July 1. The budget will go to city council as prepared but McNickle anticipates that the budget will be amended frequently to reflect what is happening in Stillwater.

“This is a rapidly changing landscape, so we are preparing for worst-case scenarios,” McNickle said. For example, department directors have been asked to look at their FY21 budgets and to make recommendations for a 25% and a 40% reduction in their operation and maintenance budgets.

“Staff has not been instructed to reduce direct services to the public or other impacts to city employees,” he said. “We will review the budget moving forward in case the situation becomes better or worse,” McNickle said.

The council has scheduled a public hearing to discuss the City Manager’s proposed operating budget (with a total operating budget of $109,700,000) at the April 20 council meeting. Find more information here: http://stillwater.org/news/view/id/556

The April 20 meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be broadcast as usual. Residents can watch the meeting live on the City's Facebook Page (@CityOfStillwater), AT&T U-verse channel 99, Suddenlink channel 14 and the City of Stillwater’s YouTube Live link at youtube.com/c/CityofStillwaterTV/live.

The final adoption vote of the FY21 budget is May 18.

Actions So Far

At the April 13 Stillwater City Council Meeting, Deputy City Manager/CFO Melissa Reames presented actions taken so far by the City of Stillwater Leadership team:

  • Staffing:
    • Staff are practicing social distancing, wearing masks, holding virtual meetings, working alternating shifts, and more.
  • Finance:
    • Staff are now following stricter purchasing polices, eliminating non-essential expenditures, looking for grants and federal stimulus programs.
    • Staff is looking at budgets for construction projects and capital equipment and considering the feasibility of delaying or cancelling some of those projects.
    • City Council/Trustees can direct staff to use reserves, but staff is recommending a wait-and-see approach as more data becomes available.
  • Information Technology & Communications:
    • Staff is embracing teleworking, videoconferencing, and communicating with the public using social media platforms and a breaking-news page on the City’s website at Stillwater.org.

How to Proceed

“We know that it’s going to take a multitude of plans, actions, cooperation and good old-fashion elbow grease before we see anything we can call recovery. However, I’m an optimist, so we will just have to take a good, hard look to find effective solutions to this unprecedented situation,” Reames said.

She posed the following key questions and assumptions to City Council:

1. When will Stillwater reopen?

a. As of April 15, that decision is under discussion.

2. How long will the recovery period be?

a. Assumption – less than five years

3. What factors indicate recovery is achieved?

a. Declarations lifted

b. Businesses reopen

c. New businesses begin to open

d. Events such as graduations, weddings, reunions and funerals resume

e. Sales tax achieves a degree of stability

4. What factors effect recovery?

a. Will OSU students return to Stillwater and when?

b. Will events such as the Arts Festival, graduations, athletics, conferences, OSU homecoming, etc., be held on schedule?

c. Which businesses survive the downturn?

d. How many residents leave Stillwater?

e. Did Stillwater get a complete count on the census?

f. How much federal stimulus will Stillwater receive?

5. What is the City of Stillwater, both the community and the government organization, doing to adapt?

a. Government Organization

I. Reducing expenditures

ii. Looking for efficiencies

iii. Rethinking “we’ve always done it this way”

iv. Sharpening the saw

b. Community

I. Developing partnerships (i.e., pop up grocery stores)

ii. Taking advantage of federal stimulus programs

iii. Innovating

iv. As a community, we will be judged on how we handle this crisis

Our Residents; Our Community

McNickle said, “We know that our residents are facing or will face hardships as this pandemic moves forward. Don’t put off asking for help whether it concerns your mental, physical or financial wellbeing. The Stillwater Public Library is compiling a list of resources. Call or visit their website. Call the City’s Utility Services and Billing and set up a payment plan if you are having trouble paying your bill. Let’s take care of each other and our community.”

Librarians will be taking information requests and answer your questions via phone (405-372-3633 x8106), email (askalibrarian@stillwater.org), and Facebook messaging.

Call Utility and Billing Services at 405.742.8245.


Recovery-related articles and resources: