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Budget: Most city employees to see pay increase

City department heads and elected officials were presented with the proposed 2024-2025 city budget during a Monday, May 20 Tahlequah City Council meeting.

Mayor Suzanne Myers read from her budget letter that was addressed to city councilors and city residents. The proposed budget represents collaborative efforts made by the city's department heads, the finance director, the departmental administrative staff, the city administrator, the city treasurer, and the mayor.

"Operating budgets within the General Fund reflect the day-to-day expenses of our departments. In an effort to acknowledge their tireless efforts and willingness to go above and beyond, and be on the scope of their workload, we are pleased to include a three percent across-the-board raise for all full-time employees and some administrative change to certain employees' pay," Myers said.

The mayor added that the city was able to refinance bond funds, which would give the city the opportunity to invest in youth programs and make Tahlequah a "destination" for youth sports.

"We believe this will increase revenue and tax dollars and increasing our tournament tourism season from the summer months, to February through October for revenue increases," she said.

Myers said the city is in a "strong financial" position and with growth in sales and taxes, General Fund expenses are supported with the revenue.

"Through the diligent efforts of our planning department and others, we have been awarded grants and other non-reoccurring sources of revenue that will allow us to accomplish much in the coming year," Myers said.

City Administrator Taylor Tannehill explained to councilors that the plan is to restructure monies that are in the Reserve Fund to meet requirements in an ordinance that was passed in 2016. He said that'll be close to $1 million.

"Currently, we've got all of our reserve funds in this separate Emergency Reserve Fund. In the proposed budget, we're proposing to move five percent of those funds back to the General Fund, and from three percent of those funds back to the General Fund and those labeled 'Operating Reserves' and 'Emergency Reserves,'" he said.

With Monday's meeting being the first discussion among councilors pertaining to the proposed budget, Tannehill said there will be some changes made to the budget before it's brought before council a second time.

In other business, the council approved the modification of an ordinance that would amend the weekly work schedule at City Hall. Myers said City Hall would open at 7:30 a.m. and close at 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and then be open 7:30 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. on Fridays. That change will go into effect July 1.

What's next

A public hearing on the 2024-2025 proposed budget will take place during that next Tahlequah City Council meeting on Monday, June 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.


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