(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / Nov. 11, 2020) – What would you change about the City of Stillwater’s budget? Whether you’re concerned with funding for parks, transportation, or public safety— the City wants to know. You’re invited to try out an interactive tool that allows you to submit your ideal City budget to decision-makers.
“The online tool works just like balancing your personal checkbook,” said Director of Marketing and Civic Engagement Sherry Fletcher. “You will be asked to make tough decisions about which programs and services to fund. For example, maybe you want more funding to go to the public library; if so, which budgets will you cut? Parks? Public safety?”
Residents will be limited to the same constraints that city staff are.
“Say you want to fund the library at a greater level but you don’t want to cut the parks’ budget. You may consider raising sales taxes. However, the software will let you know that to raise taxes you have to have a vote of the people to do that,” Fletcher explained.
The online simulation tool is called Balancing Act and it’s available at Stillwater.org/yourmoney. It allows you to balance the last fiscal year’s budget in order to help provide feedback for the development of the next fiscal year’s budget (FY2022).
“It’s important for residents to let city officials know how they’d allocate the City’s revenue and determine at what level they’d fund city services and projects,” she said.
Results (but not personal information) will be collected and reviewed by city management to present to City Council as part of the budget process.
The City is also proud to be the first municipality in Oklahoma to offer Balancing Act to its residents, furthering our commitment to civic engagement and inspired management.
Another available feature of this budget tool is the sales tax receipt application. This application is intended to estimate the portions of sales taxes paid by Stillwater residents that are received by the City and available for services such as police and public works. Sales taxes are split between the City, Payne County and the State of Oklahoma. The amounts estimated by this tool only reflect estimated funds collected and used by the City of Stillwater.
“The voice of the people is the ultimate voice of authority in our country,” Fletcher said. “Elections only come every couple of years. Tools like Balancing Act help us hear the people’s voice even when there isn’t an election, and it takes less time than voting. I hope everyone in Stillwater will take a look.”
How to Provide Input
The City announces opportunities for public input on the City’s website under the News tab and on its social media platforms. Opportunities for input include Speak Up, Stillwater, Pop Up City Hall and the Balancing Act platform.
If citizens or organizations would like a city staff member to speak at a gathering they may complete the online Request a Speaker form.
The City budget and COVID-19
As indicated by our latest quarterly financial report, the City’s finances remain stable despite initial concerns related to the current pandemic. All core City services remain available to the public. Staff will continue to practice financial caution while monitoring the situation closely.