Skiatook hopes council-city manager government will change its 'small town' image
BY RHETT MORGAN World Staff Writer
Sunday, November 18, 2012
11/18/12 at 8:23 AM
SKIATOOK - Municipal leaders are hoping that a voter-approved government change will boost the city's image and economic prospects.
"The voters gave us what we wanted," Mayor Josh Brown said. "Now it's our job to promote it the right way."
On Nov. 6, a proposition to switch from a town form of government to council-city manager template passed with 61.2 percent of the vote. The mandate came in the wake of a turbulent last few years.
In early 2010, an investigative state audit revealed that Skiatook Public Schools was paying up to four times the amount for custodial supplies and security equipment.
That led to former Skiatook Superintendent Gary Johnson and Oklahoma City vendor Rick Enos being entangled in a bribery scandal. The pair were convicted of state charges earlier this year and pleaded guilty to related federal counts in October.
Longtime Town Coordinator Martin Tucker walked away from his job this summer after the municipality failed to renew his contract, and Skiatook Fire Chief Dale Parrish resigned in July, citing a "toxic environment" from influences outside the department.
"There's been some negative stuff going on in Skiatook," Brown said. "This (approved proposition) is a shining star. We're hoping this kind of revitalizes Skiatook."
The town's population in 2010 was about 7,400, according to the U.S. Census.
"We think we've been overlooked some by being a town," said Stephanie Upton, executive director of the Skiatook Chamber of Commerce. "Being a city, I think we're going to see some progress.
"A lot of business developers when they go into a town, they think town 'small,' city 'big.' When they think small town, they don't think the population will be able to support their business, which is really inaccurate. It's kind of perception versus reality."
Upton said the town would like to attract more restaurants and aggressively promote the 6,000-seat Skiatook Multipurpose Activity Center for concerts and other events. Scheduled to open in October on the west side of Skiatook is a new Osage casino-restaurant-conference center.
"We know we're not going to become a big city," Upton said. "There's not enough land for that. But we do want some more amenities. We feel like we'll be able to get that with being a city."
The town has five trustees.
Under the new city council format, six councilors will be selected from wards and another one at-large. All new seats will be up for grabs during an April election.
Interviews already have begun for the city manager, Brown said.
"We go all the way from (U.S.) 75 and (Oklahoma) 20 to all the way across town almost to the lake," the mayor said. "Five people (trustees) sometimes is not enough. With two more people up there, you get two more sets of eyes, two more brains, two other people with other ideas. It's exciting."
Original Print Headline: Skiatook aim: town-to-city image boost
Rhett Morgan 918-581-8395
Stephanie Upton is executive director of the Skiatook Chamber of Commerce. RHETT MORGAN / Tulsa World