Lawton City Council Debates Newly Proposed Budget Plan - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

Lawton City Council Debates Newly Proposed Budget Plan

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LAWTON Okla_ The Lawton City Manager presented yet another budget proposal to the Lawton City Council Friday as they debated ways to fill the $8.5 million gap in the city budget.

Bryan Long's proposal led to greater discussion about proposed revenue streams and spending cuts. They're also now considering whether a permanent increase in water rates would be better than the previously discussed short-term surcharge. 

There was a lot of debate at Friday's meeting, and it was all about the people. Furloughs versus jobs lost. A surcharge versus permanent rate increases on water. All things that will directly affect the people of Lawton, but the Lawton City Council never reached a full agreement Friday.

"It was the question of how to get this community back on track, and ultimately I think that has taken over today and given us some direction to head into the future," said Lawton City Manager Bryan Long.

Long's latest proposal includes the idea of a permanent increase in water rates starting at $4.60 per month, rather than the previously discussed temporary surcharge. It also means abandoning the idea of furloughs in favor of layoffs, which could mean between 14 and 20 jobs lost. However, Long feels this new proposal can be adapted with time.

"It gives me time to monitor our current revenue collection. I have an opportunity to really sit back and monitor on a month to month basis where we are headed," said Long.

City Councilman Keith Jackson feels there is still work to be done on Friday's proposal. Yet, he knows it will take big changes to overcome the deficit.  

"I am not certain that all of these proposals are the best that we can do," said Jackson.

Jackson sees benefits in previously discussed solutions like the surcharge.

"Some of us like the idea of the surcharge per say temporarily for 12 or 18 months until and if we could pass a full safety expense sales tax," said Jackson.

He and other members of the council are considering furloughs rather than layoffs and high increases in citizens' water and utility bills.

"I still contend that you can do one to one and a half hours per week for 52 weeks and you can save a whole bunch of money that will help this budget out," said Jackson.

However, other Lawton City Council members and the Lawton City Manager fear that without permanent funding changes a budget crisis will be an annual occurrence.

"The truth is that we are going to need that money moving into the future," said City Manager Bryan Long.

However, despite it all the City Manager and City Council know that solving the deficit comes with burden.

"We are talking about people and their livelihood, people in our communities," said Long.

No definite decisions were made Friday. City Manager Bryan Long said he is still open to new solutions. The Lawton City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget June 11th, but it's possible that work on the budget could continue until its legal deadline June 20th.

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