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December 5, 2013

2014 proposed budget shows decrease in debt

DUNCAN — The first draft of the proposed 2014 budget for the City of Duncan reflects a decline in debt and an increase in reserves.

Tuesday, members of the Duncan City Council reviewed the tentative budget, while City Manager Jim Frieda and City Financial Director Patti Clift discussed trends in the budgeting session and within various departments.

Among the things noted by Clift was the decline in debt for the 2014 fiscal year. Going into the 2014 fiscal year, the city will have about $51,175,156.76 in debt. This number was established Oct. 31 and was notably lower than June 30’s total debt of $53,262,307.98. This was even lower than June 30, 2010’s total debt of $60,126,533.79.

“We paid down the debt,” Clift said. “It’s been everyone pulling together. We work pretty tight with employees. There’s no new debt.”

June 30, 2010, the city had $17 million in reserves, less than $2 million of which was unrestricted. Going into the 2014 Budget, the city has more than $28 million in reserves, with which is about $9.5 million unrestricted.

As part of the budget discussion, the council members, Frieda and Clift discussed proposed capital improvement projects for the various city departments.

One of the projects discussed was the construction of a splash pad in Douglass Park. The splash pad would take the place of the Douglass Pool, which was closed in 2012, because of a decline in pool use. The decision to close the pool was approved by the council in 2011.

“We made a promise,” Frieda said about the splash pad planned for the pool.

Mayor Gene Brown said the splash pad would be a beneficial element to Douglass Park. The splash pad in Hillcrest Park has been a sizable attraction for Duncan, Brown said.

“The one we have has been very, very successful,” Brown said.

Aside from the splash pad, the council members also discussed another significant project for the City of Duncan. The Electric Department is still looking to replace the transmission Line at 27th and Bois d’Arc.

The transmission line would provide an alternative route for electricity if power lines and the substation were to fail near Chickasha, which is what happened during the 2010 ice storm. The transmission line had been in working order prior to the Beech bridge at the Duncan Bypass. To make the bridge possible in 2007, the transmission line was taken down with intention to replace it.

David Yeager, Duncan Power director, said if the transmission line had been in place in 2010, power would have been restored to Duncan Power customers in a more timely fashion.

“That project is essential,” Frieda said. “What we need is that project to be complete at 27th and Bois d’Arc. We don’t have the ability to do what we did before that bridge went in.”

The council wrapped its discussion of the budget with plans to have another public hearing for the budget during the regular meeting scheduled for Tuesday. The council members said they were pleased with this year’s budget, noting how readable the budget is.

“We’ve got a plan for the future with it,” Vice Mayor Ritchie Dennington said of the budget.

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