Pawhuska City Council holds budget hearing Tuesday

Allison Weintraub |

The city of Pawhuska will hold public hearing and possible adopt its 2017-2018 budget during its 5:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting at City Hall, 118 W. Main St.

The budget does not feature any major changes from last year’s budget, Pawhuska City Manager Mike McCartney said.

“We’ve tried to be really conservative and keep going where we are,” McCartney said.

The 2017-2018 budget comes in the wake of Food Network Start Ree Drummond opening her popular Pioneer Woman Mercantile in downtown Pawhuska. McCartney said the Mercantile’s popularity has benefited more than just the city.

“We’re starting to see a lot of the empty buildings fill up and a lot of people are in town and shopping at all shops. So, that helps not just the city, but that helps everyone,” McCartney said.

Even with the Mercantile drawing more people to live and visit Pawhuska, McCartney said this budget is more focused on pushing forward and not “spending a bunch of money that we don’t have.”

“Our biggest sales tax year was in 2012 or 2013,” McCartney said. “It kind of took a big slump over the past few years. So, it’s going to take us a while to play catch up.”

McCartney said the goal is pushing forward to continue building up downtown Pawhuska, through programs like a streetscape plan and a reservoir, which the city is hoping to receive a grant on. The city’s department heads have held down expenses, which has helped Pawhuska get by, McCartney said.

“There’s a lot of communities, unfortunately, our size and around the area, that have really struggled a lot. That’s been tough,” McCartney said. “We’ve been fortunate enough.”

Even though sales tax is important to constructing the city’s budget, McCartney said it’s important to focus on other things as well.

“I know that there’s a lot of folks that think that our budgets are going to be able to just grow a lot because of what’s going on in our community, but you’ve got to think — it takes a lot of sales to make $10 in sales tax,” McCartney said.