Chickasha City Council passed a $19 million budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 on Monday.
Chickasha City Manager, John Noblitt, said the city will need to consider options to raise funds in the near future. This could come in the form of a sales tax or bond issue on the ballot.
The city has been running at a deficit for years, even though staffing and other expenses have been lean, Noblitt said. The new fiscal year budget includes a deficit of $3 million.
Noblitt said the City of Chickasha will need to strategize how to fill the gaps in order to tackle the city's ongoing drainage and road issues.
"At this point we have limited options." It is no longer feasible to cut from the police, fire or public works departments, he said. He said these departments have been working on their own to reduce expenses. He added that the city is at the point of trying to retain staff, and to avoid the cost of finding and training new employees. "This place does not work without staff," he said.
Council member Tom Rose said the council needed to be realistic about the cost of running the city.
"We've got to make some hard decisions about revenue," he said. He acknowledged that some of these decisions, such as a bond, may not be popular with the residents. However, he said the services the city provides, such as fire and police, are for the residents.
Citizens as well as council members asked why the city waives fees, such as those for sports team visitors at the Chickasha Sports Complex, when the city is coming up short financially.
Noblitt said the waivers follow certain parameters. Some fees are waived when they bring more dollars to the city.
For the sports complex, this comes in the form of sales tax and a considerable increase in concessions. Moreover, those who come to the Chickasha Sports Complex for tournaments may spend three days in town. Noblitt said Chickasha is in competition with other places such as Yukon, Oklahoma City, Norman and Moore to host these tournaments.