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Stillwater's First News with Bill Van Ness

FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

Historically, our residents have united to do what is needed to improve our city to ensure it remains as one of the finest communities in Oklahoma. We believe this hometown standard remains true today.

We are calling on our Stillwater friends and families to come together, share input and help us determine projects of need and funding sources.

Now is the T.I.M.E. -- Together Investing in Municipal Excellence. TIME is driven by the City’s mission and vision.

Mission: To build a vibrant community for every resident through our efficient services, shared spaces and smart planning.
Vision: Stillwater will be a dynamic, inclusive community with a spirit of innovation, growth and opportunity.

The Needs
The City of Stillwater has identified three pressing important projects.
    Fire Station #2
    Animal Welfare
    Transportation Projects
The Funding Challenges
    Oklahoma is the only state that does not allow ad valorem (commonly known as property tax) for the general fund
    Revenue has remained flat over the last six years
    Price of consumables has gone up
    Unfunded State and Federal mandates
    Changing regulations
    Aging infrastructure and growing community
The Funding Options
     The City has two primary options for raising the needed dollars to fund its much-needed improvement projects.
    General Obligation (GO) bond
    Increase in sales tax (more information coming soon)

Community Input
   The City of Stillwater is committed to engaging citizens as it evaluates the pressing improvement needs already identified, as well as those gained from citizen input. The City will also seek citizen feedback on funding the projects.

Community Meeting Schedule

(NE Stillwater)
September 23, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Stillwater Junior High School

As part of its plans to engage Stillwater residents in the process, the City will be forming various citizen committees to provide guidance and oversight. Residents can also give input on the projects at any time by visiting the T.I.M.E. Projects page on the City's civic engagement platform, Speak Up Stillwater.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

The City of Stillwater’s September 2021 sales and use tax collection totaled $2,997,156. The collection is based off of July transactions that were reported to the Oklahoma Tax Commission in August and apportioned to the City in September.

This is an increase from September 2020 total collections by $514,007 (20.70 percent).

  • The City of Stillwater’s sales tax collections in September 2021 were $2,737,541, which is up $489,135 (21.75 percent) from September 2020.

  • The City of Stillwater’s use tax collections in September 2021 were $259,615, which is up $24,872 (10.60 percent) from September 2020.

Hotel/motel tax remitted to the City in September 2021 totaled $47,397, which is up from September 2020 collections by $3,914 (9.00 percent).

While the increase in tax collections is encouraging, Stillwater is not experiencing overall growth due to the impact of COVID-19. Lack of growth in local sales tax generation limits future opportunities for expanding City services and capital investment. Still, the return of public activities and events, and the rebound of businesses, are hopeful signs.

For more information about the budget and taxes, visit the City’s Financial Center at stillwater.org/budget.

We also update a sales, use and hotel/motel tax report monthly at stillwater.org/document-center/detail/id/285.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

Beginning in November,customers will see an increase of a few dollars on their electric bill that is repayment of the wholesale power purchased during the February winter crisis

The City of Stillwater will pay the full balance of $7,138,352 owed to the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) throughout a 12 month time period. Only 50% of that amount will be recouped from customers throughout 36 months. There is no interest charged to the City or customers for these funds owed

Customers will notice a new line item on their monthly bill, labeled "PCA Storm Recovery." Due to the variability in energy usage and customer count throughout a 36 month term, staff will closely monitor and adjust the recovery rate to remain between $0.0020 and $0.0030 per kWh per customer per month. The "PCA Storm Recovery" line item will be removed from customer bills once the funds have been recovered

The average residential increase will be $2.50 per month and the average commercial bill will be $5 per month. A sample of a residential account statement has been included

The total amount owed to GRDA will be paid for with monies from the electric department's Rate Stabilization Fund (RSF) and the Stillwater Utilities Authority (SUA)

The half paid for by customers will replenish the RSF which could temporarily impact capital improvement projects such as the Sixth Avenue transmission line relocation, installing LED streetlights, scheduled vehicle replacement, and etc. However, this fund has absorbed unexpected expenses in the past to prevent customers from experiencing overwhelming increases in their bills

The Rate Stabilization Fund was designed to help our residents when we are faced with catastrophic situations such as the winter storm in February. These funds will be recovered in time and we will continue to strategically prioritize capital improvement projects in the best interest of our residents," said City Manager Norman McNickle

The half paid for by the City will be money from the SUA. During fiscal year 2021, City departments operated frugally through the first wave of COVID which in turn helped provide available funds for this repayment.

More information can be found at stillwater.org.

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FROM OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY:

The OSU Alumni Association and Love’s Travel Stops have entered into a multiyear agreement to support America’s Greatest Homecoming at Oklahoma State University.

The new partnership officially makes Love’s the presenting sponsor of OSU’s greatest tradition through 2023, including the centennial celebration this year.

“We’re honored to have the support of Love’s as the presenting sponsor of one of our signature programs,” said Rob McInturf, OSU Alumni Association president. “Love’s is an Oklahoma-based company that shares the values of our Cowboy Family nationwide, and we’re excited to share their story alongside our own through this strategic partnership.”

“Love’s is excited to partner with the OSU Alumni Association to help continue the proud tradition that is America’s Greatest Homecoming,” said Love’s President Shane Wharton, who is an OSU alumnus. “We look forward to continuing to support Oklahoma State as it creates tomorrow’s leaders for our state and the nation.”

Love’s has been a fixture in the Sea of Orange Parade for many years with its OSU-themed fuel hauling truck rolling down Main Street. Under the new partnership, Love’s will become an active participant in all aspects of Homecoming.

“OSU’s Homecoming is one of the largest student-run celebrations in the nation, and through their work, our students develop highly sought-after leadership skills,” McInturf said. “We’re excited to be able to bring Love’s executives together with our student leaders and facilitate new opportunities for growth among our students and future alumni.”

The centennial edition of America’s Greatest Homecoming presented by Love’s is Oct. 24-30 with more than a dozen events for alumni, students and fans. Information and registration are available at ORANGECONNECTION.org/homecoming.

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

The City of Stillwater Mayor and Council declared Monday, September 27 – Friday, October 1, 2021 as Healthcare Professional Appreciation Week in Stillwater. Citizens, businesses, and organizations are encouraged to participate in the week’s activities and support our healthcare professionals who “continuously serve on the frontline to battle COVID-19 in addition to countless hours addressing other health emergencies and concerns,” as stated in the proclamation.

“Some healthcare professionals have left the profession and some are reconsidering their frontline careers due to increased pressures from the COVID-19 crisis,” included Shyla Eggers, Stillwater Medical Center. “We are critically short-staffed and our team members are exhausted.”

Since July 1, 2021, 98% of people admitted to Stillwater Medical Center (SMC) with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and 100% of deaths due to COVID-19 were unvaccinated.

A COVID-19 vaccination incentive contest has been developed with collaborative efforts from the City of Stillwater (COS), Stillwater Medical Center (SMC), Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Stillwater. The goal is to increase vaccinated citizens throughout the community to decrease the spread of the virus and severity of the illness if contracted. (MORE ON THIS IN A SEPARATE STORY BELOW)

Mayor Joyce added, “Doctors, nurses, and the staff at Stillwater Medical Center are worn out, they’re tired. They would like our help in trying to figure out how to get the numbers down at the hospital; the vaccine incentive might help. This may make a difference for some who have not gotten the vaccine yet…”

The contest is now through Thursday, September 30. There will be a live drawing on Friday, October 1, 2021 for $100,000 in cash prizes and Oklahoma State University Football tickets. Stillwater residents must provide proof of residency and proof of started or completed COVID-19 vaccination to enter. Citizens can enter the contest by bringing their two proofs to either the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce or Visit Stillwater.

“Health facilities have been under siege for the past year and a half. Local vaccination rates remain below 50%; if incentives help increase the vaccination rate even 10%, it is worth it,” City Manager Norman McNickle said.

There are many events planned for Healthcare Professional Appreciation Week in addition to increasing COVID-19 vaccination(s).

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FROM THE CITY OF STILLWATER:

The City of Stillwater in collaboration with the Stillwater Medical Center (SMC), Stillwater Chamber of Commerce, and Visit Stillwater are encouraging all citizens to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in effort to safeguard our healthcare professionals and help save lives.

Healthcare professionals at SMC and throughout our community continue to give every effort fighting this debilitating and deadly virus. Healthcare professionals are dealing with extreme exhaustion and critically short-staffed facilities. Yet they remain resolute on the front line battling this virus.

Stillwater and Payne County citizens are asked to become fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in effort to show our healthcare professionals that we value their lives as they have sacrificially and heroically valued ours. To further encourage vaccination participation, a drawing has been added to the campaign as an incentive.

More at: http://stillwater.org/page/breaking-news/-sleeves-up-stillwater/vaccination-incentive-contest-drawing.

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