Yukon slashes budget 20 percent after financial difficulties

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YUKON, Okla. - City leaders are praising a massive budget reduction as a step in the right direction, as Yukon recovers from apparent financial mismanagement.

City Manager James Crosby said Yukon is "moving forward in a very positive manner," after the council unanimously approved a budget that's down $10.5 million from the year before.

"I think people should walk away knowing this city is not overspending itself," he said. "We’ve got our budget under control. We’re going to manage what happened. We’re going to move forward and give our citizens the best service we can."

Yukon is still trying to find its footing after its previous city manager resigned.

The council admitted it misappropriated $1.3 million, using money to pay salaries and bills instead of making capital improvements.

The city then drained its reserve fund to fill the hole.

Since then, Yukon has cut 42 staffers through layoffs, retirement or attrition.

All city departments reduced their budgets by 5 percent.

"We’ve recovered from that, and we’ll make the year in fairly decent shape," Crosby said. "Not as decent as you would like, but we’re not going to have to borrow any money. That was a concern. And, we’ll move forward."

Crosby maintains Yukon's citizens will not be affected.

Instead, he said, the most notable effects will be projects that will be downsized or delayed.

The city is already looking to sell the lot it built for a new city hall.

Road improvements at Frisco and I-40 may have to wait, and a planned state-of-the-art soccer complex may have to downsize.

"I’d just like to see the complex be built the way it was supposed to be built and not have to cut the kids short because of the adults’ inability to manage money," said Tom Bannister, whose daughter plays soccer. "I would like to see it come to fruition to make sure all the kids get a place to play."

A complex smaller than promised figures to create tighter scheduling, he said, potentially leading to later nights.

"They tell you, out of one side of their mouth, it’s all going to be okay but, then, they tell you the kids are going to have to suffer for it," he said. "If it’s their inability to manage money, why is it the kids that always have to pay?"

Crosby said budgets like this are the first step to recovering from the financial woes.

From here, he hopes to allocate sales tax money to the proper place, slowly replenishing the budget reserve.

Crosby estimates it will take 3-4 years to completely refill it.

Last month, the OSBI opened an investigation to search for misuse.

The city is still waiting on an audit to determine exactly what went wrong.

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