Shawnee residents will see more street improvement activity in the upcoming fiscal year as city officials increased funding for overlay and rehab projects.


Shawnee residents will see more street improvement activity in the upcoming fiscal year as city officials increased funding for overlay and rehab projects.
The 2008-09 budget will have more money allocated to economic development with less funding going into streets, but the street improvement fund will have enough in it for the city to address street projects. The funding will go to maintenance projects, not new street construction.
The city is looking at reallocation of the third penny sales tax revenues. The city is proposing to increase economic developing funding from 5 percent to 8.30 percent, while the streets percentage is going from 43.75 percent to 38 percent.
Commissioner Linda Peterson said the public perception is that not enough is being set aside for street projects.
City Manager Jim Collard said everything requested for street improvement projects was either funded or had money being rolled over from a previous budget.
“This is going to be an active year,” Collard said.
Residents are used to seeing a higher activity level when it comes to street repair, but the activity has been as high during the past couple years, Peterson said.
Collard said that for the past two years, the city has allocated $1 million each year for the Kickapoo widening project. In the 2008-09 budget, the city has another $1 million being allocated for Kickapoo, but it will be the last year.
Commissioner Tom Schrzan said the city needs to address the small street projects in the upcoming year.
“Small things like that mean a lot to the community,” he said.
In the budget, the streets improvement fund has $450,000 for overlay street projects and $450,000 for rehab of concrete street projects. The city has budgeted $175,000 for repair and maintenance materials. At the end of 2008-09 fiscal year, the city has an estimated $557,960 in ending fund balances.
The city will be busy with $900,000 dedicated to projects in the budget, but Schrzan said he wasn’t sure money needs to be taken from streets to help fund economic development in the community.
Schrzan said he has received several calls from residents concerned about the city taking money from streets and putting it toward economic development.
Schrzan said the city commission needs to think long and hard about the reallocation and the retail study.
“I guarantee there will be new faces up here if you take streets (funding) away,” he said.
Collard said the reallocation will go toward paying for the retail study, which will provide the city with a comprehensive analysis of what businesses are needed in Shawnee. The reallocation also will go to provide an additional $96,000 to the Shawnee Economic Development Foundation.
Schrzan said when residents are told the city is taking the money away from streets and putting it toward a plan for adding businesses, “they don’t want to hear it.”
Peterson said that a few years ago she would have said the same thing, but times have changed. In order for the city to be considered by businesses, Shawnee has to show it needs that type of business, he said.
“We also have to have streets to drive on,” Schrzan said.
Peterson said the city needs to focus on the fact people are driving to other communities to shop, and Shawnee needs to keep them here. Shawnee relies on sales tax as a major revenue source.
The city also will have several capital improvement projects set for the upcoming year, including improvements of recreational facilities in the community.
The city has plans to build a skate park on Center Street, next to KidSpace Park. The city has $106,184 budgeted in the 2008-09 budget.
Schrzan said the city could use some of the regional park money for the project if necessary, but Mills said all of the $888,794 will be needed for the sports park project.
The city is in the process of looking at land north of the Shawnee Mall as the future site of a sports complex to house soccer and baseball fields.
“We’re going to need something for the skate park now,” Schrzan said.
City officials decided to pull $50,000 from the ending balances to total the $106,184 for the skate park.
The city also will budget $55,000 to rehab the airport walking track. Parks Superintendent James Bryce said he would like to repair one-third of the track at a time, and the $55,000 should be enough to cover the first one-third of the track.
Other big ticket items for the capital improvement fund is the $100,000 transfer to the Heart of Oklahoma Expo Center for facility repairs and updates and $37,500 for the city’s cost for the Sardis Lake project.
The city’s contribution in the Sardis project is for engineering and design costs for the regional group looking to purchase Sardis as an additional water source.
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Amanda Gire may be reached at amanda.gire@news-star.com or at 214-3934.