By Traci Chapman
With its first balanced budget in more than seven years, strong economic performance and a host of programs and projects moving forward, Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney’s State of the City report was full of optimist, hope – and good news.
Rooney presented that report last week during Mustang Chamber of Commerce’s monthly luncheon – a presentation fitting, he said, because many of the city’s ongoing projects were thanks to voters approving an August 2016 sales tax extension proposal.
It was the last time Rooney addressed chamber members; since that time, the city has launched several renovations, expansions and new projects made possible by those who approved the measures – with several other accomplishments on every level of the community putting Mustang in a “pretty darn good place,” the city manager said.
Sales Tax Election Updates
Voters in August 2016 gave city officials the thumb’s up to move forward with a $25 million slate of improvements, thanks to the extension of a 1-cent sales tax in effect since 1996.
The 1-cent sales tax first went into effect in 1996, funding through many projects through the years, things like construction of Mustang’s Town Center and aquatic complex, the city’s police department headquarters, baseball and softball facilities and more.
Voters in 1999 approved the initial 1996 tax – to 2030.
In 2016, officials said with the fact they would pay off the original assessment early – in June 2017 – and with several projects that could continue moving Mustang forward that could benefit from those funds, they believed asking voters to continue the tax would be beneficial.
Voters clearly agreed, with 66 percent of them choosing to approve the measure.
The bulk of the $4 million allocated to public safety included an emergency operations center/fire substation, public safety equipment and vehicles and software upgrades for the city’s dispatch system.
Rooney said the city procured a site on the east side of Mustang, via a combination purchase and donation, which will house the combination emergency operations center and fire substation.
Mustang Police Department is working on the city’s dispatch and other communications systems, which is expected to go online in the fall. Officials also purchased five vehicles, which – like the rest of the MPD fleet – will be outfitted with new devices meant to streamline every aspect of the department’s functions.
About 10 percent of the approved funds were earmarked for new public safety personnel – something already accomplished with the hiring of police officer Cody McDaniel and firefighter Justin McGeehee, Rooney said.
About $10 million will be allocated to street repairs and improvements, including widening of both Sara Road and SW 89th, between Highway 4 and Mustang Road. Neighborhood street overlays are also part of this infrastructure investment, Rooney said.
The Sara Road project, a project jointly funded by the city and Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, is in the late engineering stages, while right-of-way acquisition should begin in coming weeks on the SW 89th Street plan, the city manager said.
“Finally, this summer, a complete street inventory will be performed in order to establish those residential streets that are in the most serious need of attention,” he said.
Mustang has been ordered by Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality to update its wastewater treatment plant – the only project included in the $6 million infrastructure plan.
Phase III, the final facility improvement phase, was designed to improve Mustang’s wastewater treatment capacity to 3 million gallons per day; DEQ just approved the city’s plans, which means officials’ next step is to advertise for bids on the project, which should take place shortly, Rooney said.
Quality of Life
While Mustang Park Foundation helped raise funds to help pay for Brittany’s Play Adventure, the city’s first all-inclusive playground located in Wild Horse Park, municipal funds were needed to help make both the playground and a splash pad Rooney said he expected to begin construction this spring.
A $5 million Town Center expansion is underway – with expected completion in January 2019 – and a two-field soccer lighting project should begin in April, said the city manager. Renovations to the city animal shelter are in early design stages, while Mustang Market Place, a venue that could be used by Mustang Community Garden, as well as other city and civic groups for a variety of events, will round out quality of life projects.
Other City Achievements
Beyond sales tax-related projects, Mustang officials celebrated several milestones in 2017, Rooney said – including:
• Completion of Imagine Mustang, the city’s new comprehensive plan
• Reduction of the city’s fire rating, thanks to the efforts of then-Chief Carl Hickman and the rest of the Mustang Fire Department staff
• Renovations and updates to Mustang Police Department’s patrol room, as well as additions to its K-9 and bicycle patrol programs.
• Parks and recreation improvements, including exterior sound equipment at Mustang Town Center and a new concession sales app at the city ballpark.
The Community At Large
Rooney also praised other entities, including Mustang Public School District and businesses throughout the community.
“Mustang was named as ‘The Best City to Live in Oklahoma’ by Money magazine, and our terrific public schools are a large part of how that happens,” Rooney said. “All of them (these businesses) are successful, big and small, because Mustang provides an environment where they can be successful and because they – themselves – provide excellent customer service through caring for and about their customers.”