It’s been a long year for Chickasha Mayor Chris Mosley.
In addition to his mayoral duties, Mosley has served as the interim city manager since January, when former city manager, John Noblitt, resigned.
Almost right away, Mother Nature doled out a cold challenge. The big freeze of February 2021 resulted in icy roads as well as frozen and busted pipes.
Mosley said city employees worked diligently during the aftermath to tackle one crisis after another.
“I watched city employees work nearly 24 hours a day during the cold. The city never shut down. We were open every day as usual.”
On Tuesday, Mosley gave the annual State of the City address, presented by the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce. The event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Mosley welcomed the new Chickasha City Manager, Tyler Brooks, who took is role last week.
“He is here and we are thrilled,” Mosley said.
More than 20 candidates were interviewed and narrowed down to four. Mosley said one word caught the attention of staff during Brooks’ interview.
“He answered with ‘we,’” Mosley said. “He said ‘We will fix this.’”
Mosley said Brooks and his family have already been engaged in the community, even attending a Fightin’ Chicks football game.
Mosley said the sales tax was maintained better than anticipated during the pandemic, thanks to efforts on the part of the Chickasha Economic Development Council and the Chickasha Chamber of Commerce.
The tourism associated with the Festival of Light usually correlates with a boost in sales tax. However, there was a big uptick in 2019 and 2020.
Between 2016 and 2018, sales tax increased between less than 1%, up to 3.4%. When the skating rink was added to the Festival of Light in 2019, sales tax went up 6.5%. In 2020, the Chickasha Leg Lamp was added to the Rock Island Depot, which quickly garnered state, national and international attention. Sales tax went up 16.9%.
Mosley said taking the city manager role allowed him to closely examine day-to-day operations. The Chickasha City Council have met in work sessions to discuss the city’s finances and how to pay for needed repairs.
“We’re tired of being poor as a city and we’re tired of being broken,” Mosley said.
During the first quarter of FY 2021-2022, the Chickasha City Council implemented a 20% water rate increase.
“We did comparative rating and we’re 2/3 of everybody else around us, in water cost,” he said.
In Chickasha, the base rate is $15 per 2,000 gallons. Anadarko $23 for the same 2,000 gallons, pumping from the same source with the same treatment process as Chickasha, Mosley said.
The City was approved $2.8 million in ARPA funds, which will help over next few years. These funds can be used for technology, water and drainage. However, these funds cannot be used for roads.
The City of Chickasha received the first $1.4 million a few weeks ago and will get the other half next year.
“So then we’ll be able to really decide how we’re going to fix the City of Chickasha,” Mosley said.
On Nov. 8, the Chickasha City Council will discuss implementing a meter fee, which would be weighted more for commercial that residential meters.
During the deep freeze in February, Mosley said city employees discovered multiple water-related issues. Valves weren’t working. Towers ran dry because they shut off due to not working properly. There are hydrants downtown that do not flow properly.
“In the past, the practice has been to repair and band-aid and move on to the next crisis. It is not the desire of our crews, but the projects outnumber our ability to fix them,” Mosley said.
Some of these projects include the sewer lines and storm sewer lines. Also, many of the street signs in Chickasha have faded. There is also overdue maintenance at the Chickasha Sports Complex.
The City of Chickasha is also due for a technology update, Mosley said. Chickasha is too big to take advantage of rural grants for internet access and too small for big companies to make a profit in Chickasha.
Mosley said he has used his cell phone as a hot spot for his smart TV because the DSL can’t handle a computer and TV at the same time.
“That’s a joke in 2021,” he said.
While there are numerous projects that need attention, Mosley closed his speech discussing the growth in Chickasha’s future.
The Badgett Dog Park is already underway. This project is 100% funded by the Badgett family. Moreover, the proposed park in Downtown Chickasha may provide extra tourism dollars as well as enhance the quality of life for current residents.
Housing options are expected to get better. There are four housing developments coming to Chickasha, 40 duplexes, a four-story apartment building, senior living and retail space as well as a new hotel.
“Chickasha’s going to be a better place next year. It can’t help but be,” Mosley said.