FAQ

General

WHAT HAPPENS IF WE DON’T PASS THIS BOND OR THE CIP RENEWAL?

If this bond is not approved by voters, nothing will happen. Our police and fire departments will continue to operate with the resources they have in their current facilities and will continue to do their best for our community, given the operational challenges of the current situation. The same will be true for our public works team, our library staff, city staff, MLK Center staff, and citizens who drive the roads slated to be improved. Everyone will continue to do the best we can with the existing situation. However, as our needs increase and the current facilities deteriorate, those challenges will eventually demand an emergency solution that may come at a higher cost overall.

What is Muskogee’s current millage rate compared to other cities?

This bond, if passed, will affect all ad valorem (property) taxpayers in Muskogee, meaning homeowners and business owners will share the burden. For a $100,000 taxable market value home or property, the average monthly impact will be $12.50/month. There will be no additional sales tax impact on citizens if the CIP renewal passes.

These are the current millage rates in Muskogee. Green represents the current rate in Muskogee school district. Red represents the current rate in the Hilldale school district.

WHY CAN’T WE REARRANGE THE EXISTING BUDGET TO FUND THESE NEEDS?

Our operating budget comprises local sales taxes, use or excise taxes, inspections and permits – and those sources do not increase enough annually on their own to fund major projects and initiatives. That’s why city governments, including Muskogee, often bring funding options like GO bonds to their voters to address critical infrastructure needs.

WHEN WILL WE SEE THE BENEFITS OF THIS BOND IF IT PASSES?

If the bond is approved by voters, we anticipate breaking ground for the first projects sometime in late 2025 or early 2026. Final planning, engineering, and bidding must happen in accordance with state law before construction projects can commence.

Why is the City holding a special election on August 27, 2024,
instead of holding the vote with the November election to encourage higher voter turnout?

The election will be held in August because we felt that this issue was so important that we wanted our citizens to be able to focus on it and not get confused by the timing of a presidential election.

From 2019-2022, auditors showed a lack of internal control and lack of oversight regarding tax dollars. Why should we trust the city with $100 million?

The audit findings referred to are generally related to the city lacking the internal resources necessary to generate GAAP compliant financial statements. This is fairly common with small to midsized municipalities due to the complexity of the accounting standards that underlay a set of GAAP compliant statements. Muskogee, like many other Oklahoma municipalities, utilizes specialized outside accounting firms to produce our GAAP compliant statements for that reason. The audit opinions on the 2019 – 2022 financial statements have all been “unmodified”, which is the highest opinion issued by independent auditors.

Why is Muskogee considering a tax increase at a time when inflation is high?

GO bonds are a tool that cities like ours utilize pay for projects to better their communities, and if we want to have what other communities have, we have to pay for it.

Why did the City of Muskogee invite the community with an agenda in place?

The City of Muskogee and your elected councilors have been meeting and gathering input on bond projects for over two years.

What are we doing for the youth in Muskogee?

We currently operate the Teen Center which operates after-school and summer programs and we will soon be adding an Esports facility for youth who are interested in electronic gaming. Neighbors Building Neighborhoods operates many youth programs that are housed at the Martin Luther King Community Center.

In 2019, Muskogee approved several bonds for school rights. Can we get a better understanding of that process and transparency on the total breakdown?

Please contact the Muskogee Public School District for more information on their bond process. They are a separate entity and we do not have all the information on their bonds.

If we haven't been able to maintain our current buildings, are we including money for the upkeep of new buildings in the proposal?

The GO bond does include maintenance funds and would allow us to free up funds in the operating budget that are currently allocated to upkeep of aging and deteriorated buildings and focus on more routine maintenance.

What, if any, money will be coming from the proposal bond to fund the lithium facility or its needed infrastructure?

None of the bond fund will be used to fund the lithium refinery or its infrastructure.

Who planned the details of the 3+1 propositions? When did they start the process? Who wrote the language for each one?

The City Council started discussing bond projects over two years ago. Proposition language was written by legal consultants who work on bond issues.

Why haven’t we seen improvements in other areas of Muskogee – including the walking trail, weeds on the west and south sides, drainage on the south side, and more?

Without more information on a specific location, it is difficult to give a precise answer. However, there are several older neighborhoods in the south side of the city that have stormwater collection and conveyance issues. Above ground conveyance systems present the most difficult situations as they tend to silt in and property owners don't always maintain the culverts along their property. The city addresses these issues as reported and time/manpower allow. Please report all issues like these using the Citizen Action Center, so we address them as they arise.

How have these aging buildings passed inspection for mold, water, lead, asbestos, and code enforcement?

In some cases, they haven't. We have had to have mold remediated at City Hall this last year.

Why hasn’t the City commented on the $20 million lawsuit the county jail lost that will be put on our property? How is the City going to pay for the judgements in the England, Taff, and Lacey lawsuits?

The City of Muskogee cannot comment on pending litigation or on lawsuits in which they are not a party, such as those against Muskogee County. There are no judgements on the England, Taff and Lacey lawsuits.

Why doesn't Muskogee have qualified personnel to make repairs on heavy vehicles? Making repairs and preventive maintenance is cheaper than purchasing new equipment.

The City has a fleet department with several very qualified mechanics that maintain our motorized equipment. The age of some of the pieces of equipment is a testament to their hard work and dedication.

GO Bonds

WHY DID MUSKOGEE CHOOSE TO FUND THIS EFFORT THROUGH A GENERAL OBLIGATION BOND?

General obligation (GO) bonds are often used to fund large public infrastructure projects, like police and fire stations. This type of bond is repaid through yearly property taxes until the bond expires. After a GO bond expires, the property tax collected to pay for it retires. Both public safety departments have significant equipment needs as well. The bond will provide a way to replace fire engines, typically costing between $500,000 and $1,000,000 apiece, as they reach their end of designed life stage. It will also provide a funding source to replace police vehicles on a rolling basis to keep the fleet updated and functional. Other key equipment for both departments, including self-contained breathing apparatus and thermal imaging cameras for the fire department and radios, computers, and cameras for the police department, will also be funded by the bond, should it pass.

How much in go bonds will the city issue?

Muskogee will issue bonds not to exceed the sum of $78,685,000, which will result in $77,000,000 in funding plus the cost of issuance for the bonds.

HOW LONG WILL THIS BOND, IF PASSED BY THE VOTERS, LAST?

The proposed bond would expire in 2050.

What go bond projects would we see results for first?

We anticipate that the new fire station on York Street would be one of first GO Bond projects that you will see.

How much is the total payback, including interest fees and cost, over the life of the bond?

The bonds will be issued in a series of tranches as funding is needed. Those bonds will be publicly sold to the lowest interest cost bidder and the rate will vary based on the time of sale. If the bonds were to be issued in a single series at current interest rates, the net interest cost would approximate $39M over a bond life of 25 years.

Who are the bond buyers, sellers, and what are they being paid?

In accordance with state law, the bonds will be sold in a competitive process with the bidder offering the lowest interest cost being awarded the bid.

Why can’t the City issue 5-year bonds instead of 25-year bonds?

The City of Muskogee will not issue all the bonds at once. This will give us the authority to issue them, as needed, during the 25-year time period. We plan to issue them at different times and pay them off as we go, prior to issuing more.

My property assessment went up recently after no changes or improvements were made in this area. Will my property value increase again to get more tax dollars out of me?

Property taxes can change as the County Assessor reassesses the property to determine its value. The most recent increase you may have noticed was likely due to the school bonds (Hilldale and Muskogee) that have passed in recent years.

If foundations (like the Muskogee Medical Foundation) have funds available, why can’t they utilize or match funds without incurring 25 years of debt?

The foundations are ongoing funding sources for multiple community organizations and agencies; city government doesn’t have direct access to those funds without approval from the Board of Trustees of the Foundation.

The bonds are described as $77 million dollars, but the math on the project list shows over $101 million. What is the $24 million dollar difference?

The difference is that GO Bond Propositions 1-3 total $77 million and Proposition 4 is not a bond; it is a CIP sales tax renewal.

Why can't the city impose an automobile tag tax?

The State of Oklahoma is responsible for the tag and title costs related to automobiles, this is not an available source of new revenues for local governments.

By law, 70% of the bond funds must go to the purpose of the bond. The other 30% can be spent as they see fit. What is the city going to use that 30% for?

For full transparency, we have outlined the expenditures for 100% of the funds.

Where does all the money go when people get tickets?

These funds become part of our general operating budget.

Public Safety

WHY DOES THE CITY OF MUSKOGEE NEED TO BUILD NEW POLICE AND FIRE STATIONS?

Our current police station is housed in our municipal building, which was constructed in 1931 and was built originally as a civic center with a large auditorium. The building was never intended for use as a police station. There is no room for any additional personnel (some offices are converted closets), no heating, the building suffers from near-constant water leaks and mold, has no emergency lighting, poor ventilation, and is not ADA-compliant, meaning some citizens cannot effectively access the department. Storage for records is challenging given the amount of water incursion, and there is no way to reasonably address the heating or ventilation challenges in that part of the building. A new station located near the current station is the most economical option for the city’s officers to have adequate working and personnel space, climate control, and records storage now into the next 25 years.

Fire station #5 on North York Street was built in 1967 using cinder block construction. The building has significant structural issues and water incursion problems. The NE corner of the building is in danger of collapse. The station also does not have an adequate front apron of concrete, resulting in fire engines having to be partially in and partially out of the bay while waiting to enter traffic in an emergency response. Not being fully out of the bay means drivers have a harder time seeing the engines and knowing they need to pull over and allow the fire department to respond to an emergency.

Other fire stations need renovations and upgrades so that they can be used into the future without the challenges Station #5 now faces.

Why will we pay for equipment with a 20+ year bond when we have to replace a lot in 3-5 years?

The bonds will not all by issued at the same time. We plan to purchase vehicles and equipment several times over the next 25 years and will issue bonds only as needed.

Why can’t a public office or police department utilize the Arrowhead Mall space?

The City of Muskogee doesn’t own the Arrowhead Mall.

Wasn’t the fire station previously approved by citizens? What happened to those funds?

The engineering and design of the replacement for Fire Station 5 (York St) has been accomplished with other resources. The remaining unallocated funding in the 2019 CIP is not sufficient to pay for the construction of the new station.

If the police department is housed in city hall or vice versa, why aren’t those projects in the same proposition?

They are currently housed together but will not be in the future. Proposition 1 will build a standalone police station.

Where will the new police station and fire station be built?

The fire station will be located on the same property that Station #5 is currently located at on York Street. We anticipate building the new police station on property that the city already owns in the downtown area.

Will there be a new jail for inmates?

The City of Muskogee does not operate the jail, so no bond funds will not fund a new jail.

When will the pay for our first responders, city workers, and teachers be addressed and taken care of?

Bond funds cannot be used to pay salaries, but we do offer our employees a wonderful benefits package and have been able to consistently provide cost of living raises every year for the last three years. Our City Council recently approved a sign-on bonus for new police officers. The City of Muskogee does not employee teachers; they are employed by the school district.

Have you actively involved the firefighters/policemen in the design of the proposed buildings?

Yes.

Why can’t the neighborhoods adopt our fire station and start fundraisers with big rewards?

That's a great idea and we would love to partner with any neighborhood organizations who are interested in doing so.

If a lithium battery facility is coming to town, do firefighters have proper gear in case of an emergency?

The City's fire personnel are well trained and able to respond to emergencies at industrial facilities.

Streets & Bridges

Will you mend and redo roads within city limits on the west side?

Prop 2 projects include Smith Ferry Road, downtown, the Medical District, the Country Club and Shawnee intersection, and a pedestrian bridge on US 69.

When will Shawnee Hwy be repaired?

The City has a project in the planning stages with ODOT to rehabilitate the intersections on the frontage roads that parallel Shawnee.

Why is the downtown project only focused on "Main To 5th Street"? Why draw that boundary cutoff?

This is the area that Main Street Muskogee is focusing on for their downtown revitalization efforts. We are concentrating on this area by their request.

When will the west side infrastructure be addressed?

We will need more details on the specific infrastructure that you are referring to. If you have problems that need immediate attention, please report them using the Citizen Action Center, so that we can address them in a timely manner.

Will we get completely new streets from top to bottom or just an overlay?

Streets will be repaired according to their need. Each one is evaluated and a plan of action is determined based of the condition index score of the street.

When will East Blvd be fixed?

This street is on our radar and is scheduled to be fixed this summer.

Why are we not addressing downtown and better use of city properties for revenue streams?

Proposition 2 does address the need for an improved downtown. All city owned properties that can be utilized for revenue streams are being used in that capacity, such as the Hatbox Event Center, the Civic Center and parks rental pavilions.

Community Facilities

Why is the City considering turf fields for the sports complex?

Turf fields require less upkeep and allow us to fully utilize the staff we have to maintain the facility while providing a field that is attractive to tournament and league organizers.

Will Ward 4 have sewers put in? Currently, we pay for sewers on our bills but only have ditches in many areas.

The stormwater fees on your bill pay for the stormwater improvements across town and are not part of the bond.

When will we have sidewalks all over Muskogee? Many trails are overgrown with trees, bugs, and more.

Residential sidewalks are the responsibility of the property owner. The trails are regularly patrolled by the Police Department and receive regular maintenance. If there is a specific portion of the trail system that we need to pay more attention to, please let us know by reporting it using the Citizen Action Center.

CIP Sales Tax Renewal

WHAT ABOUT THE CIP SALES TAX RENEWAL? HOW DOES THAT FACTOR IN?

The GO Bond projects will be propositions 1, 2, and 3 on the August 27th ballot. The Capital Improvement Project (CIP) Sales Tax renewal will be proposition 4 on the ballot. This sales tax is a reallocation of two separate, existing taxes that were both previously dedicated to specific types of projects into one equivalent CIP tax for greater flexibility, allowing future councils to determine if street needs have shifted, for example. The current overall sales tax rate in Muskogee will not change if proposition 4 passes. The tax has been collected for CIP use only and will continue to be dedicated to CIP use only. If approved by citizens, the sales tax extension would be from 2025-2031.

Is the existing CIP sales tax a half-cent?

Yes.

How long is the CIP expected to run?

6 years.

Isn’t the water treatment plant already covered?

The water treatment plant is partially within the potential flood area. As a critical piece of infrastructure, it needs to be protected from flood events to help ensure that 75,0000 people in and around Muskogee have access to potable water.

Why did the City delay upgrading the Civic Center HVAC system for 50 years? Wouldn't it make more sense to put money aside each year for HVAC repair/replacement?

This project has been delayed because, without a bond, there has not been adequate funding to pay for it.

If we add new storm drains, will the nonfunctioning ones be replaced as well?

The areas in the bond that will be receiving new storm drains, the medical district, does not currently have storm drains. If you know of an area that requires immediate attention, please report it using the Citizen Action Center.

VOTE ON AUGUST 27TH

Local elections impact many important aspects of our communities, including public safety, roads, infrastructure, and quality of life, so we want to encourage everyone to get out and vote on August 27th. To check your voter registration status and polling place, visit the Oklahoma Voter Portal.