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Rooney delivers State of the City speech

Mustang City Manager, Tim Rooney, spoke to the Mustang Chamber of Commerce members at the March 23 Chamber Luncheon. (Photo by Jacob Sturm)

By Jacob Sturm

Mustang’s monthly Chamber Luncheon filled a large room inside the Mustang Town Center,
with a plethora of topics piquing the members interest once the featured speaker’s speech got

That speaker, Mustang City Manager Tim Rooney, offered the audience with keen insight on
many of Mustang’s latest developments and issues to potentially impact Mustang soon in his
State of the City speech.

So, what can we take away from that insight?

For starters, Rooney said construction on Sara Road has been underway for almost eight
months, and that right of way acquisition and utility relocations began nearly a year before
that. Sara Road crosses multiple jurisdictions, including Oklahoma City, Mustang and the
Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

According to Rooney’s updates spanning from two weeks ago, the city anticipates the Sara
Road project to be complete no later than the end of September.

Fire Station No. 2 was also mentioned in Rooney’s speech. That will include an emergency
operations center, improvements to Ross Terrace (the road used to utilize Fire Station No. 2 on
the West side), and an emergency traffic signal to be installed on State Highway 152.

The project remains on time and under budget. Rooney credited the efforts of Chief Craig
Carruth for the accomplishment.

“While the station for the most part is complete, we will not be doing the ribbon cutting and/or
going to announce fire station No. 2 until likely sometime in May, as the Ross Terrace
improvements will take another 60-75 days until they are completed,” Rooney said. “We just
believe strongly that every aspect of this project should be completed before we have that
official unveiling.”

Mustang Marketplace also had an update. Rooney said city staff has begun discussions with the
developer of the property for the purpose of exploring ways the city of Mustang can provide
assistance in the marketing of the development, but those discussions remain in the
preliminary stages at this time.

Rooney then transitioned to the economic development of the future. He said a customer base
is crucial to support any plan of future retail and retaining the retail currently in place.

A total of 1,721 residential lots were created, or are going to be created very soon within the
city of Mustang. The data, collected over the past 10 years, would equate to 172 lots per year.

Rooney also said the city is utilizing tools meant to assist the city in tracking consumer activity,
including a tool that helps track foot traffic to understand shopping and dining patterns, where
people are coming from and going to following their visit.

That data shows good foot traffic at Wild Horse Park, but that people tend to leave town to go
to other retail afterward. Like all municipalities in Oklahoma, Mustang relies on sales tax to run
operations, fund employees and more. Oklahoma is also the only state restricting the use of
property tax use for daily operations.

“Oklahoma is the only state in our nation where cities must rely solely on sales tax for their day-
to-day operational needs,” Rooney said.

Rooney referenced sales tax leakage, and showed data indicating seven of the top 10 places
people visit following a trip to Wild Horse Park are not in Mustang. Rooney said the important
thing is not where the restaurants are (Oklahoma City and Yukon), but that they are not in

“It should be our goal that this list changes in the future so that seven of the top 10 restaurants
visited after leaving Wild Horse Park are in Mustang, not somewhere else funding their
programs, their employees and their services,” Rooney said.

Another impending issue Rooney identified is the Grocery Sales Tax, with Gov. Kevin Stitt
having pushed to remove the state portion of the grocery sales tax pending approval from the
state legislature. He raised concerns that the state removing their sales tax portion could cause
confusion for citizens who will continue to see the city’s sales tax portion in their purchases.

That could lead to uninformed citizens challenging why the city charges sales tax on groceries.
Those citizens could then run under a platform stapled on removing grocery sales tax, and
could win races for the Mayor and City Council seats next up for election and be one seat away
from enacting real change on this issue. Rooney said sales tax makes up “a conservative 50% of
the entire revenue stream of the city of Mustang, perhaps even as high as 65%.”

“Removal of sales tax on groceries at any level is a threat,” Rooney said.

Rooney also referenced Mustang State Representative, Brian Hill, as having recently voted to
continue a bill out of committee that will remove the state portion of sales tax. Hill then voted
against the bill when it was heard by the entire body this past week.

The bill came out of the Appropriations and Budgets Committee, one of the committees Hill sits

“Every measure that has any physical impact to it, anything that is going to address money at
all, is coming with title off, and that means it’s a working draft,” Hill said. “That’s important
because it means it’s being discussed, it’s being worked on, but it’s certainly not a final product.
Each of these tax measure bills are in that context. All title off. As they’re moving through the
process for discussion purposes, I think it’s important to also note that there are groups of
legislators that are meeting to continue the discussion of what does it look like to shift our tax

Hill used an example of Oklahoma’s property tax being much lower than in a state like Texas.
Those taxes could be made up in Oklahoma through grocery tax, which Texas does not have.

“We just need to make some real decisions as Oklahomans for our future,” Hill said. “What kind
of tax do we prefer? Do we prefer a consumption tax that essentially goes based on what you
purchase, which is what a sales tax would be? Or do we want more of a set, the more you own
the more you pay, which is more like the property taxes in Texas. So, it’s just things that we as
legislators, we as the citizens of Oklahoma, we’re going to have to make some long-term
decisions on how we feel it best affects our lives and out communities and our growth …It’s not
an easy discussion. It never will be.”

Hill said he thinks there are still a lot of questions local municipals have, and he expressed that
opinion in his vote against the bill.

He said he agrees with the overall discussion, but wants to make sure every aspect of that
discussion is happening.

The next step involves the House bills going into the Senate and vice-versa. Those bills will be
going into the committees this week.

“We just need to make sure that the discussions we’re having take into account the Municipals,
which are funding our Police, our Fire, our Streets,” Hill said. “We’ve got to take care of that,
and every discussion we have has to have that consideration in it as we look at cutting taxes
(and) changing tax structures. Those are really great discussions. We just need to make sure
that we are having responsible thoughts in that as we make sure that we’re getting more of the
people’s money back to the people.

Rooney asked why people would want to risk future problems with the city funding for
employees and equipment by voting to remove the grocery sales tax at the state level first.

“Don’t get me wrong, do I hate paying sales taxes on groceries, sure I do,” Rooney said. “But
when I review what I receive as a resident of Mustang, not as it’s administrator, as a result of
paying those taxes on groceries, police protection, fire protection, parks, an outstanding public library, all of the improvements and projects mentioned earlier throughout this program (State
of the City Speech), as well as special event programming, the benefit far outweighs the


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