A new fiscal year is coming. That means proposed budgets for the Town of Luther and the Luther Public Works Authority have been proposed, and must be approved to go into effect by July 1, 2023. For the curious, questioning, and those who take civic responsibility seriously, the budgets are published for review on the town’s website. A public hearing will be held on June 13, at 7 PM, at Town Hall, 108 S Main.
The proposed $1.5 million Town budget is nearly 20% more than the current fiscal year, where sales taxes, licenses and permits (reflecting increased home construction), and other revenue exceeded revenue expectations. This budget reflects grant revenue, already announced, that will pay for infrastructure improvements, including a new shop, water line valve replacement, and new sidewalks by the school.
The proposed 2023-24 budget includes a forecast of $48,000 a month in sales taxes, reflecting steady sales tax revenues, and revenue increases for things like licenses and permits, and more grant revenue. In addition to the expenditures for daily operations, the budget also reflects capital expenditures to enhance public safety services of the Luther Police Department and the Luther Volunteer Fire Department.
Luther Public Works Authority
The Luther Public Works Authority has its own budget, separate from the Town, and operates similarly to a business. The LPWA provides water and sewer service to those within the “hydranted areas” of town, about two miles, roughly between Wildhorse Park and Booker T Washington Park to the east/west, and between Route 66 and 178th Street to the north/south. The Town offers trash service, through Eastside Waste, to all businesses and residents in its wider 15-mile boundary. In addition, LPWA staff also provides support to the town through duties like mowing the parks, town property, and the Luther Cemetery, and performing critical administrative support and customer service at Town Hall.
The Luther Board of Trustees also governs LPWA. The new fiscal year budget forecasts total LPWA revenues of $396,156, that reflects a utility rate increase. Projected expenses, however, come in at $404,122 (the town coffers will make up the shortage).
The Numbers Help Paint the Picture
The Town of Luther passed the million-dollar budget mark a couple of years ago, for the fiscal year 2021 – 2022, helped along by a small but mighty business community (please support local!) and a sales tax increase. Just six years ago, a newly elected town board cobbled together a budget less than half of this year’s proposal, setting the town on a course for better fiscal management, and savings.
From the Luther Register archives.
The board proposes a $667,537 budget for the new budget cycle which begins July 1, 2017. The new budget gives the Town almost $55,000 more to spend than the current year. The board is counting on that extra $55,000 to come from taxes. Interestingly, the Town is counting on taking in about $15,000 less in fines (tickets) and forfeitures. Incidentally, the town’s budget for 2017-18 is nearly $157,000 less than the budget in FY 2015-16, seemingly to reign in spending to save funding for inevitable capital needs with water and other infrastructure.On the way to a budget, June 1, 2017
The budgeting process is necessary and required by law, however, it still is a bit of a moving target using the tools of reviewing current expenditures, careful accounting, and a little bit of guesswork by Town leaders and administrators. The budget could be amended at any point if needed.
The June 13 public hearing will precede the Board of Trustees regular June meeting.
Luther is a small town
One more thing, the Town of Luther operates on a small budget, even if it is a million dollars! One look at our surrounding towns and cities helps tell that story. For example, the city of Edmond takes in seven times the amount of sales tax revenue a month ($7.5m in May), that Luther takes in for a whole year. Choctaw takes in three-quarters of a million dollars monthly. Luther is budgeted at $48,000 a month in sales tax revenue, making it one of the smallest, but growing, municipalities in Eastern Oklahoma County. The practice of excellent stewardship in handling a smaller budget, in austerity, will go a long way when the revenues, and the expenses, grow for the Town of Luther.
REMINDER. This article’s author (Hi! It’s me, Dawn) works part-time at Luther Town Hall as an office assistant and helping with economic development. Hard to believe I’ve been there a year, and still feel new. While I “thought” I knew what went on at 108 S Main, after covering the town board since 2015, I quickly discovered that I had no idea what ALL went into working for a municipality. There are many bright spots, much to learn, many checks and balances (well done), and many challenges. Daily! I thought chasing news was unpredictable; working at Town Hall is just as varied. Maybe more. Everyone at Town Hall wears many hats, cross-trains on duties and goes the extra mile when there’s a water leak or a sewage disaster. Even some of the elected leaders log many volunteer hours planting flowers, making a disc golf course, and going to lots (and lots of ho-hum) meetings to represent Luther. As a reminder to you, I wanted to be upfront about this hybrid work life I’ve found myself in. I try to keep my town hat and reporter hat separate (and have clocked out at Town Hall a few times to go cover breaking news), and spent part of Memorial Day writing this budget story for Luther Register after also posting it on the town’s website last week. How’s that for transparency?! Thanks for reading, and please support our advertisers. Find out how to give reader support or advertise here.