Council updates budget, city project progress

Feb. 3—A long list of budget amendments totaling a little over $3.2 million, along with payments for two major city projects — the realignment and expansion of Frederick Road in south Claremore and the Lowry Road detention pond — were addressed during January Claremore City Council meetings.

Starting with the Cultural and Development Authority budget, City Finance Manager Susan Maloy and City Manager John Feary gave a rundown of budget items that needed to be changed at the Jan. 22 meeting. These included items affecting CDA, as well as the Public Works Authority and the primary city government budget this year.

Feary told the council there was enough money in funds to rearrange the budget.

"It just happened quickly this year," Feary said.

The council approved all the budget changes.

Some changes were due to price increases impacting day to day purchases. Other changes were required due to receipt of additional grant revenue and a contract service agreement to provide internet services to Rogers County.

The city also received $200,000 in American Rescue Plan Act grants from the Cherokee Nation and Rogers County. Benefiting from these grants are city services such as police, fire and emergency services, each receiving $50,000 ARPA grants from the Cherokee Nation. Rogers County awarded the city one $50,000 ARPA grant for the Senior Citizens program.

"We had very strong budgets, then some things happened — like $21,000 to fix the roof of the basketball gym at the Claremore Expo. This was emergency repairs, but we had to get it done quickly," Feary told the City Council. "We have had quite a few retirements from the police department, meaning we have to have new uniforms, equipment, bullets for those coming in. Our building inspector is out for some time, requiring a temporary replacement, the IT folks are costing us $200,000 a year, plus $170,000 for additional IT services."

The $200,000 increase in IT (internet technology) costs at the city is being offset by monthly payments received from Rogers County, per a contract the city and county inked in 2023. The city is currently acting as an IT contract service provider to the county.

"Expenses are going up on everything. Projects that are in the middle of getting done — things that we thought we had good numbers for — are moving up, with no real end in sight," Maloy said.

Maloy said the city got back ODOT funds of $1.2 million early, which meant it had to be added to the budget.

"We had to redraft the budget in addition, because of the price for transformers. These were between $2,500 and $3,500, and have now moved to almost $7,000, depending on size, and the time needed to get them shows it is 90 to 120 days, or we can wait a year or more to get some reduction in cost," Feary said.

In council action during the Jan. 8 Public Works Authority meeting, members approved $95,578.92 in reimbursement of three right-of-way purchases for the Frederick Road project in south Claremore.

The total cost for building the Frederick Road on ramp to the State Highway 20 project is more than $7 million.

This project will improve Frederick Road from where the new Highway 20 will intersect Frederick, traveling north to the east side of Lowe's. Once the new Highway 20 project is finished, this street will see significant traffic increases. The current two-lane road with open ditches will be improved to a three-lane section, with curb and gutter and sidewalk on one side.

While completion of the Frederick Road project is nearly two years away, city officials said the roadway design plans are 100% complete. The city is working on acquisition of right-of-way and utility relocation coordination. Utility relocation work is anticipated to begin in summer/fall of 2024. Road work will likely start in summer 2025 and be finished by spring 2026.

Another nearly $55,000 was approved for expenses related to the ongoing Lowry Road project, which involves the construction of a 10-plus-acre detention pond north of the Greenbriar Addition. The cost of this project is $2 million.

The Lowry Road detention pond project will help alleviate some downstream flooding of areas along Cat Creek during large rain events. Mobilization on this site started in mid-November. Work is underway to strip the site and install the pond outflow appurtenances. Mass excavation and haul-off is scheduled to begin around March 1.

Another $241,176.50 was approved to Service Electric Co. for the Claremore Electric substation rehab project.

The next Claremore City Council meeting is Monday, Feb. 5, starting 6 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 104 N. Muskogee Ave. In addition to the regular council meeting, the Cultural Development and Public Works Authority also meet.