City leaders push for Yukon sports park, recreation facilities

Gilliland, Wootton cite long-term benefits to Yukon

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Ward 4 City Council Member Aric Gilliland

By Conrad Dudderar
Staff Writer

Some Yukon city leaders want to study ways to fund a project that attracts people to Yukon – such as a multi-purpose sports park and new recreation facilities.

Ward 4 Council Member Aric Gilliland believes this would generate additional sales tax revenue “for many, many years to come” for the City of Yukon.

“I do think it’s imperative to continue to explore how we can improve recreation in our town,” Gilliland said. “Sometimes the question is, ‘The chicken or the egg?’

“When you invest in your people, there’s an automatic return on that.”

A general obligation bond issue could be proposed for such an endeavor, instead of raising the local sales tax rate.

Any new bond debt must be approved by voters since the bonds are funded through property tax.

Gilliland’s comments came at the May 4th Yukon City Council meeting after council members heard a presentation from the City of Yukon’s accounting consultant about the city’s improved financial condition.

“We’ve got to turn our minds and our eyes toward big things in terms of recreation and bringing people into our city to enjoy it as much as we do,” Gilliland said.

At-Large City Council Member Jeff Wootton

At-large City Council Member Jeff Wootton believes it’s time for Yukon to invest in its future and build new youth sports and community complexes.

“This will provide Yukon’s youth with a dedicated venue that will give the city a ‘leg up’ in attracting tournaments and events, not to mention the revenue that comes with them,” Wootton said after the meeting.

A new sports park and community complex – if done correctly – would benefit more than just Yukon’s youth, he added.

“This will also help increase the quality of life for all people of Yukon and surrounding areas by incorporating something for each age group,” Wootton said. “A new complex will also give us the opportunity to attract young, marketable professionals who are choosing where to start their careers, married professionals who are choosing where to start a family, and entrepreneurs who have a choice of where they would like to live and start businesses.”

Yukon’s at-large council representative cited economic benefits.

“(T)owns like ours that have sports complexes see an increase in out-of-town money spent,” he added. “If Yukon hosted sports tournaments such as baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, and rugby every weekend, the number of out-of-towners coming to Yukon would be in the thousands, and those thousands would bring money to spend in our community.

“This could benefit local businesses such as restaurants, the entertainment sector and not to mention hotels.”

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HOW TO FUND?

CPA Frank Crawford, president of Crawford & Associates, explained how Oklahoma cities and towns can fund construction of new recreational facilities and water/street infrastructure upgrades.

“There are two operational revenue streams for an Oklahoma municipality,” he said during the May 4th meeting. “That is your sales tax on the city side and the utility revenue on the municipal authority trust side.”

Crawford encouraged city leaders to find the best process that encourages people to buy inside Yukon city limits.

“That could be by bringing people into Yukon that don’t normally come into Yukon because of a sports facility complex or something like that,” Crawford explained. “Or keeping those residents who have been here or attracting new residents because we have clean water and we have nice roads.

“There’s a quality-of-life factor that you have to consider at a certain point in time.”

Based on his 20 years of experience, Crawford said primary quality-of-life issues (beyond public safety and education) are nice roads, clean water and a recreation facility “that attracts multiple generations of users.”

Recreation covers parks, swimming pools, golf courses, and multi-purpose facilities.

Yukon city officials also have discussed a possible general obligation bond to fund infrastructure projects, such as street, water and sewer improvements.

“If you decide to go out to a g.o. bond market, it typically should focus on some – if not all – of those areas,” Crawford told council members.

“The recreational side has the ability to draw more people that don’t normally come here. The other two (roads and water) have the ability to keep hold of the people that are already here and to be a factor when somebody may relocate here to live the rest of their lives.”

Crawford talked earlier in Tuesday night’s city council meeting about Yukon’s positive overall financial condition. This is indicated by a “Performeter” score that has increased from 4.8 to 7.4 since 2015.

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