Cherokee City Council discusses upcoming fiscal year budget

The Cherokee Development Authority Regular Meeting was called to order at 6 p.m., May 12, 2021.

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Mayor Kolby Arnold, and the invocation, led by City Manager Mike Jones, the roll was called. Chris Padilla, Kolby Arnold, Luke Hague and Adrienne Wessels answered roll; Jeremy Hickman came in just after roll call ended.

Adrienne Wessels made a motion to approve the minutes of the April 28, 2021 meeting, and Jeremy Hickman seconded the motion. The minutes were approved, with Wessels and Hickman voting for the motion and Padilla, Arnold and Hague abstaining. Wessels made a motion to approve the claims list. Hickman seconded the motion, and the claims list was approved.

April financials were presented by Tracy Reed of RS Meacham CPA. Overall, our situation is positive; all revenues are at or above budget for the year, and most expenses are below budget. Profits for the year are $46,000 higher than budgeted. Hickman made a motion to approve the financial report, and Wessels seconded. The financial report was approved.

Mike Jones presented the City Manager’s Report. Governor Stitt has withdrawn Oklahoma’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration as of May 4; as a result of this action, the City of Cherokee will no longer refund credit card fees for paying bills online.

Two employees attended the weevil roundup on May 12th, sponsored by the OSU Extension Office. Weevils that are collected will be released at the city lagoons to combat musk thistle growth.

The Southgate lift station went down on May 11. Crews have responded to repair the pumps. One residence received damage due to the lift station not working.

Wessels made a motion to approve the Manager’s Report, and Hague seconded the motion. The report was approved.

Jana Walker, CPA, has submitted a FY21 Audit Engagement Letter; this firm has performed annual audits for the City of Cherokee. Jeremy Hickman made a motion to approve the letter, and Adrienne Wessels seconded the motion. The letter was approved.

Reed presented the budget for FY21-22. There is nothing new for this next year. Ms. Reed recommended that water, sewer and trash rates be increased to keep up with inflation. Mr. Jones commented that the City is hoping to change how water is billed to residents; the proposed method will reflect more accurately how much water is used per household, instead of the current method of billing for a minimum of 5,000 gallons per month. Some water bills will go down, and some will go up, depending on the amount of usage. There will be a public hearing on June 9, prior to the regular meetings of the Cherokee Development Authority and the Cherokee City Council; the meeting will add more detail to the proposed budget.

There being no new business or remarks by governing body members, Adrienne Wessels made a motion to adjourn the meeting, and Luke Hague seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 6:49 p.m.

The Regular Meeting of the Cherokee City Council was called to order by Mayor Arnold at 6:49 p.m. All members of the Council responded to roll call.

Wessels made a motion to approve the minutes from the April 28 meeting; Hickman seconded the motion, and the minutes were approved. Hague made a motion to approve the minutes from the May 3 Special Meeting as amended; at one point former Mayor Karen Hawkins’ name was listed instead of new Mayor Arnold. Hickman seconded the motion, and the minutes were approved as amended. Hickman made a motion to approve the claims list. Wessels seconded the motion, and the claims list was approved.

Reed from RS Meacham presented the financial reports for April 2021. Revenues are higher than budgeted, especially in the use tax. Use tax is the tax paid to online merchants (i.e. Amazon); a portion of the tax paid by Cherokee residents for online purchases is returned to the City of Cherokee. The amount of use tax received in May 2021 is three time higher than the amount received for May 2020. Hickman made a motion to approve the April financials, and Wessels seconded the motion. The financials were approved.

Jones presented the City Manager’s Report. There will be a pre-bid meeting at the airport at 10:30 a.m. on May 13, 2021, and bids will be opened at City Hall at 10:30 a.m. on May 20, 2021. The Hometown Dispensary is planning a street carnival on May 22 and 23; proceeds from this event will go toward cancer awareness.

On May 10 Mr. Jones attended a NODA-Sponsored meeting regarding a USDA 502 Loan Program for housing in rural areas of Oklahoma.

Mr. Jones is hoping to update city mapping to show that most of the city is no longer considered to be in a flood plain; the city was last mapped in 1981.

Six members of the Cherokee Volunteer Fire Department completed a Structural Fire Fighter Course in Goltry on May 11. Their final burn will be coordinated with Alva Fire Department so all Cherokee firefighters will have training time inside a working fire.

Chief of Police Ryan McNeil presented the Police report for April. There were 220 calls for service, 28 investigative reports, 21 municipal citations, 8 written warnings, one verbal warning, and five summons. Officer Cross and Chief McNeil completed the ERASE (Exterior Response to Active Shooter Event) course, which was paid for through federal grants. All officers will be attending this course as time permits. Officers Hall and Fink attended the Advanced LEDT (Law Enforcement Driver Training) course at OSU-OKC on April 15. Chief McNeil wants all officers to attend this course.

Hickman made a motion to approve the City Manager’s Report; Hague seconded the motion. The report was approved.

Hickman made a motion to approve the CDBG Ohio Avenue pavement overlay and reconstruction project, and Adrienne Wessels seconded the motion. The plan was approved. The Council reviewed the CDBG contract parts I and II for approval. Hickman made a motion to approve the contracts, and Wessels seconded the motion. The contracts were approved. The Council considered the CDBG Fair Housing Proclamation, which states that the Ohio pavement project should not displace any dwelling units. Hickman made a motion to approve the Proclamation, and Hague seconded the motion. The Proclamation was approved. The Council then considered the line-item budget for the project; Hickman moved for approval, Wessels seconded the motion, and the budget was approved.

Walker, CPA, has submitted a FY21 Audit Engagement Letter; this firm has performed annual audits for the City of Cherokee. Hickman made a motion to approve the letter, and Wessels seconded the motion. The letter was approved.

The Council reviewed the FY22 budget as presented by Reed of RS Meacham CPA. No action was required.

The Council discussed trading in the current 2015 Bobcat skidsteer, which is not in working condition, for an upgraded John Deere model; this action will save the city money. Padilla moved that the trade be approved; Hickman seconded the motion, and the action was approved.

Following a short break, the Council received governing board training from Bill Tacket and David Weatherford of OMAG (Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group) regarding the essential duties and functions of all types of municipal government.

Under new business, Jones reported that he has been asked to serve on the management board of Opportunities, Inc., a non-profit that assists low income families. He stated that it would involve one evening a month for meetings.

Hickman made a motion for adjournment, and Wessels seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

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