McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

June 12, 2014

Council agrees on group funds

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — McAlester City Councilors have agreed to fund several groups and organizations — including some at a higher rate than had been originally budgeted by the city administration.

However, City Manager Pete Stasiak pulled one request and the city council voted to table another until they get more information.

City councilors took the action during their regular Tuesday night meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

Among the organizations the city considered funding were Oklahomans for Independent Living, the Main Street Association, Pride In McAlester, Junior Sunbelt Classic and the Joint Civil Defense/Emergency Management Administration between the Pittsburg County Commission and the city of McAlester.

When the talk had ended and the votes were cast, city councilors agreed to help fund Oklahomans for Independent Living, McAlester Main Street Association and Pride in McAlester for the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year, which begins July 1.

Stasiak temporarily pulled a request to fund $15,000 for the 2015 Diamond Sunbelt Classic. He took the action pending the gathering of financial information for this year’s tournament, which is still under way. The city manager said he planned to resubmit the request as soon as the most current information is available.

A majority of the council voted to fund Oklahomans for Independent Living and the McAlester Main Street Association at higher levels than last year — which is the amounts the two organizations had originally requested.  Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith voted “no” —not against funding the organizations, but against funding at higher levels than in the city’s original proposed budget.

City councilors didn’t opt to fund Pride In McAlester at a higher level after an amendment to do so failed to pass —but the group, dedicated to cleaning up the city,  along with other community-related activities, still received the largest amount of city funding of any outside group.

All of the organizations were listed on the consent agenda, which means if the city councilors had chosen, they could have passed funding for all of the projects with a single vote and without any discussion.

That didn’t prove to be the situation, however, as city councilors opted to pull all of the organizational or group-funding items for discussion before casting their votes.

When the talk had ended and the votes cast, a majority of the city councilors voted to fund the following amounts:

• Pride In McAlester — $54,000.

Although the city administration had recommended budgeting PIM at $54,000, Ward 3 Councilor/Vice Mayor Travis Read presented a motion to increase Pride’s funding to $60,000, the amount originally requested by the organization. However, the motion for the increase to $60,000 failed to receive a vote of the majority of the council.

 • McAlester Main Street Association — $27,398.

 That’s up from the $25,200 originally in the city administration’s proposed budget. Mayor Steve Harrison made a motion to increase the funding. City councilors who were present voted “yes,” with the exception of Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith, who voted against the increased amount. Ward 6 Councilor Jason Barnett did not attend the meeting.

• Oklahomans for Independent Living — $24,000.

OIL received an increase over the $21,600 suggested by the city administration in the proposed city budget. Read made the motion to increase the funding, with the rest of the councilors joining him, with the exception of Smith, who voted against the increased amount.

A request from the Joint Civil Defense/Emergency Management Administration for funding in the amount of $42,500 drew comments from several city councilors, who said they wanted more information.

Several individuals spoke to the city council regarding funding requests from organizations they represented.

They included McAlester Main Street President Chris Taylor; Pam Pulchny, of OIL; and Regina Peoples and Justin Few, of Pride In McAlester.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.