Commissioners looking to increase revenue

Shawnee city commissioners and the Shawnee Municipal Authority held a special meeting  at the Heart of Oklahoma Exposition Center to discuss issues within city government, including possible new initiatives, priorities and action plans for staff.

The meeting was designated solely for discussion purposes. No action or decisions took place.

The main topic discussed was economic development and plans to implement an increase in funding to be put toward that process.

City Manager Brian McDougal said economic development is critical for Shawnee. He said right now, funding for economic development is around $196,000 per year.

“That’s not near enough to be competitive,” he said.

McDougal said the city needs funding to provide a few buildings for potential business owners to house their businesses and draw more revenue to the city of Shawnee.

While many commissioners had suggestions on ways to produce more revenue, no set plan was put into place.

Commissioner Linda Agee suggested selling properties owned by the city that were going unused but McDougal explained that while the city does own some property that could be sold, it would not generate enough revenue to help with economic development.

The ways the commissioners discussed for creating revenue was increasing sales tax, property tax, fees, and hotel/motel tax. Commissioners discussed the issues with raising each of these and decided the best course of action would be to either raise the hotel/motel tax or sales tax or find a different way to increase revenue.

Mayor Wes Mainord suggested raising hotel/motel tax.

“I think we could fund that and it’s not a burden on the taxpayers,” he said.

Commissioner James Harrod said while he didn’t have a problem doing that, he didn’t think it would raise enough revenue to build buildings and bring in more businesses.

“It’ll take 10 years to have enough money to do anything,” he said.

Instead, Harrod suggested adjusting money the city spends on the Expo Center and designate the money from the increased hotel/motel tax to the Expo Center and use the money the city is giving now to go toward economic development.

Commissioner Keith Hall said creating new buildings for new businesses to move into Shawnee would not be the answer for now.

Hall said improving the quality of life in Shawnee by creating a better city for people to live by improving parks and housing is what commissioners and staff members need to focus on.

“At the end of the day I still believe, and this is me personally, that people want to move where they want to live,” he said.

Commissioner Steve Smith added that because Shawnee is in close proximity to Oklahoma City, some citizens might work there and live in Shawnee.

Commissioners will continue to discuss how to improve economic development before any decision or action will take place in the future.

Other issues discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting included streets, parks and water and sewage.