The Norman Transcript

Government

May 16, 2013

City plans to shore up Rainy Day Fund

NORMAN — A request from McKinley Elementary for help funding a small section of road along the school’s west side will be put back into the proposed 2013 budget, Norman City Council members decided at Wednesday’s Finance Committee meeting.

Council members, meeting with city staff to discuss budget concerns, spent much of the evening talking about putting a small portion — just more than $1 million of Public Safety Sales Tax money — into the Rainy Day Fund. The city’s Rainy Day Fund can only be used under extreme circumstances.

Council member Tom Kovach said, putting a fair proportion of PSST money in the rainy day account could protect police and fire jobs in case of an emergency.

“If there is a crisis, you take care of core services first,” Kovach said.

The proposed proportion calculated by the city’s Finance Department is $1,031,330. According to the ballot language, excess revenue from PSST money can be used for budget stabilization.

“The fund balance is, if you will, our savings account,” Kovach said. “You have flexibility as long as you have money there. Putting something in a rainy day fund, I think, is absolutely appropriate because it’s about emergencies.”

Kovach has served as a guardian of PSST funds in the past, insisting the council wait until Fire Station 9 had been built before using excess funds generated by the special sales tax.

“As far as the rational and the calculation, it makes sense,” Council member Robert Castleberry said. “I agree with Tom (Kovach). I think it’s totally appropriate.”

Council member Roger Gallagher disagreed.

“You shouldn’t be using it for something that broad,” Gallagher said. “I don’t agree to it at all.”

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and city attorney Jeff Bryant said making a contribution to the Rainy Day Fund from PSST would be fully compliant with ballot language.

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