Stillwater News

Budget Input Week is Jan. 4-9

Released:Jan 04, 2021


It’s your tax money; Tell us how you’d spend it

(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / Jan. 4, 2021) – It’s that time of the year again — the City of Stillwater is entering the Budget Preparation Phase of the budget cycle and is calling on you to participate. The Budget Preparation Phase is a period from January to March where the City takes public input to develop the next fiscal year’s budget.

City officials are interested in what Stillwater residents want to see budgeted. If you would like to give your input on the City’s Fiscal Year 2022 budget from home, try our interactive, online budget tool. The tool allows citizens to submit their ideal City budget and results are presented directly to City Council and staff.

Another way to get involved virtually is through Speak Up Stillwater, the City’s civic engagement platform. Here you can ask questions, give suggestions and sign up for updates.

Residents are also welcome to speak directly to City Council at scheduled public hearings on the City’s budget. See details for public meetings at Remember to fill out the Request to Speak Form.

According to Deputy City Manager/CFO Melissa Reames there are a number of questions she receives year-round about the City’s finances.

Q1. Where does the City get its revenue?

In Oklahoma, sales tax is the largest source of recurring revenue for municipalities. The total sales tax paid for purchases within Stillwater city limits is 8.813 percent (effective April 1, 2013) of which the City of Stillwater receives 3.5 percent.

Graphic explaining sales tax breakdown

The City also receives use tax. Use tax is due on goods purchased outside of Oklahoma and brought into Stillwater and consumed in situations when no sales tax was charged. An example is something you buy online from another state and no sales tax is charged, but you use the item in Stillwater once it's delivered. You can find the monthly Stillwater sales tax collections update in the Newsroom.

Other revenue sources include federal grants, transfers from the Stillwater Utilities Authority (SUA), fines and forfeitures, licenses and permits, fees and more. Visit the Financial Center to learn more about City Funding Sources.

Q2. How much property tax (also known as ad valorem tax) does the City receive?

Property taxes finance General Obligation Bonds, which voters approve for specific capital projects. It is a common misconception that property taxes help pay for the City’s core services. Although this is true in many states, cities and towns in Oklahoma are not allowed to levy property taxes for day-to-day operations. The City has only one general obligation bond on the books and it will be paid off in 2021.

The majority of Payne County/Stillwater property taxes go to Stillwater Public Schools. For more resources, visit our Property Tax page in the Financial Center.

Chart of Payne County/Stillwater Ad Valorem Tax Levies

Q3. I understand the utility rates are going up again. What do I need to know?

City Council sitting as Stillwater Utility Authority raised solid waste rates effective Jan. 1. This rate adjustment will help fund a new transfer station. They are also looking at electric, water and wastewater rates adjustments that would go into effect July 1. Rates will be discussed in future meetings. Watch the Oct. 26 City Council and SUA Study Session on utility rates on the City's YouTube Channel.

As stewards of the public trust, one of our core principles is to conduct our operations in an open and transparent manner. When looking at rates, the City considers the following

  • Having sufficient financial resources and ability to fund continued operation, maintenance, and construction of high-quality and essential electric, waste collection, water and wastewater services
  • Ensuring facilities are run in an economical and equitable manner
  • Meeting the demands of its customers without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

Q4. Can you explain what a TIF is and how does it affect me? 

TIF stands for tax increment financing, which can be used by local governments to publicly finance needed structural improvements and enhanced infrastructure within a defined area to promote the viability of existing businesses and to attract new commercial enterprises to the area. TIF districts serve as a catalyst in their region to achieving the City's goals of promoting economic development, stimulating private investment, and enhancing the tax base, with the goal of making possible investment that would be difficult or impossible without the TIF district and the apportionment of incremental property and sales tax revenues from within the increment district. Any funds the TIF generates would only be allocated for investment in the identified project district. These funds would not go into the City’s general fund.

In addition to generating much-needed funds, reinvestment in our community’s infrastructure creates jobs, hence the need for more workforce development and attendant earning potential.

All project plans support the City’s efforts to achieve its development objectives and improve the quality of life for its residents.

If a project plan does not generate new development projects, the City Council can modify or cancel it at any time—without any impact.

Learn more about Stillwater’s current TIF districts on the City’s Tax Increment Finance (TIF) page.

For more information on the City's finances, go to


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