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Ponca City Budget Meetings Conclude Earlier This Week

The Fiscal Year 2019-2020 City budget meetings concluded on Tuesday at City Hall, with Ponca City Management closing out two all-day sessions concerning the wants and needs of various municipal departments.

Mayor Homer Nicholson, City Manager Craig Stephenson and City Finance Director Marc LaBossiere convened with various department managers along with City Commissioners Lanita Chapman, Paul Taylor Shasta Scott and Ryan Austin this week to finalize figures for next year’s budget.

The overall budget for Ponca City for the upcoming year, which is set to start July 1, is projected at $108,815,752, which is a 4.69 percent increase over last year’s total.

The budget will be delivered in book format to the City Commission for adoption on or before June 10.

Fire Chief Butch Herring and Deputy Chief Gary Wilson opened the Tuesday meeting with budget requests from the Fire Department.

The Fire budget is set at $5,627,804 for the upcoming year, a small 0.63 percent increase from last year. Capital requests include $155,000 for debt service on a recently replaced pumper truck along with $455,000 for another replacement pumper truck to be kept at fire station #4. Both of those requests are believed to be from Ponca City’s Capital Improvement Fund. A third request is $72,000 for new two-way communication equipment.

The Fire Department’s current fleet of vehicles includes three pumper trucks along with one ladder truck, one airport crash truck, several ambulances and other assorted vehicles including some sourced with Department of Homeland Security funds.

Calls for fire and rescue service took a welcome drop for the Department from the previous year, with 1,064 responses logged, including 33 related to structure fires, a 26 percent decrease.

It was posited that as building codes and construction continue to evolve, improved fire resistance measures shifts the onus for Fire Department personnel to medical calls – the latter aspect of service being also related to Ponca City’s aging population.

Fires comprised 3 percent of recorded incidents requiring a response, whereas ambulance calls accounted for 81 percent of runs.

The 2019-2020 budget for the Marland Estate Fund – The Mansion – is proposed at $382,600, a 9.68 percent increase from last year. Keathly spoke to the need to replace the roof of the historic artistic studio that sits adjacent to the mansion at a projected cost of $90,000.

Donations from outside sources were a boom  for operations during the previous year as $117,240 was donated to the Marland Estate Foundation which includes $41,590 from individuals, $4,250 in matching grants through Phillips66, and $1,400 from a local family bequest.

Also discussed at the meetings were to improve WiFi at municipal buildings, and Ponca City Energy requesting funds for new vehicles.

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