Editor:

The McAlester city councilors looked and sounded like they were being stampeded Tuesday night when they voted to up McAlester’s water rates 30 percent. All but the mayor appeared to have unanswered concerns and questions.

I know I did.

I think we got into our current situation following a stampede mentality. Past councils blindly followed prior city administrators. That did not work well. Members of this council were elected because voters believed they, personally, would consider details and make informed decisions, not approve matters when they still had unanswered questions.

Questions I had include:

1. How many city employees do we have in each department now as compared to the number five years ago? (Our population has remained stagnant while the sales tax revenue has increased, yet the number of city employees appears to have grown. If so, why?)

2. How many city employees are salaried, and how many are on hourly wage, also as compared to fiscal year 2000.

3. The average administrator’s salary as compared to five years ago.

4. The hourly wage, also compared to five years ago.

5. The number of vehicles the city owns now, compared with five years ago, itemized by departments.

6. Does the city have a “rif” (reduction in force) policy in place, one the administration could implement if it actually became necessary to reduce the work force to bring expenditures in line with available money.

7. The average monthly revenue the city receives from, sales tax, water/sewer/garbage fees, McAlester Regional Health Center, the Southeast Expo Center, municipal court costs and fines, recreational facilities rented and leased, other city property rented and leased, royalty payments, franchise payments (cable, telephone, electric lines), police, fire and ambulance runs, cemeteries and other miscellaneous sources

8. The cost of providing utilities to businesses and residences in areas designated by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to be served by Rural Water District 7.

9. Legal fees paid in challenging RWD No. 7’s right to provide water service to its designated customers.

10. The cost of providing streets and utilities to the Komar Distribution Center

11. The cost of providing streets and utilities to private developers (with an eye to repayment from business entities or individuals who have profited from the city’s past benevolence)

I have confidence in the individuals now serving on the city council but I didn’t like seeing them stampeded.

I would like to see them bring this matter up again next meeting, rescind their decision, and insist on having their questions answered, not by the city manager or a citizens committee, but by insisting on answers until they are satisfied.

I don’t know much about running a city, but I do know about trimming fat in a family budget to fit the money that’s available. I’d like to see the council be a little more frugal.

After all, that’s my money they’re allocating. I don’t play fast and loose with it and I don’t want them to either.

Sharon Ervin

McAlester

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