We are two communities, but we are neighbors, friends, coworkers – and one of us is hurting.
News broke recently that the city of Yukon is in the midst of a terrible budget crisis. While some details are still unknown, what is known is that funds allocated to bond issues were allegedly used for general spending, something that is not only unethical, but also illegal, in the world of municipal finance – if reports are accurate.
Former City Manager Grayson Bottom is gone, and former longtime leader Jim Crosby returned to his post at the helm of Yukon operations. Crosby’s experience and knowledge not just of municipalities, but of Yukon in particular, make him the perfect choice to weather the storm as its city manager.
But, he has his work cut out for him.
Already, city officials have announced they have scrapped plans for a new municipal complex and have put the property it was slated for on the market. They are also working to find ways to cut budgets without slashing services or employees, although it appears that might not be possible with the latter.
So, why does that matter in Mustang?
Well, on the surface, I guess it doesn’t. Despite the economic challenges facing not just Yukon, but many other cities and the state as a whole, Mustang appears to be on solid footing. City officials – council and staff alike – have taken a conservative approach to the numbers and while municipal employees might not be getting a merit pay increase this year, that’s been a rare occasion through the years for them. And, let’s face it – lots of employees in the public sector don’t get regular raises, merit or cost of living, so the fact Mustang’s staff have been able to do so is a real benefit many people haven’t seen.
But, back to Yukon. Yes, Yukon’s plight should matter to all of us. Not because Mustang could have the same problem, but because these are people we know – neighbors, friends, coworkers, your children’s friends. They are living, sometimes literally across the street because of municipal borders, in a city that could see darker times ahead before it pulls back into the light.
Because of the size of Mustang School District, I think it’s safe to say that the majority of families who have children attending schools here do not live in Mustang proper, but rather in Yukon or Oklahoma City. Even many people who have a Mustang mailing address, technically live in Oklahoma City, a municipality that – at least in our family’s experience – basically ignores us. We are from Mustang; we love Mustang; but we also are a part of something bigger. Maybe it’s Canadian County, maybe it’s more.
What we can do, and perhaps it’s a small thing, is to help support Yukon. I don’t mean to stop shopping in Mustang and take your dollars to Yukon. That would hurt our own city. But, if there’s something you’re purchasing that can’t be found in Mustang, consider heading to Yukon and not to Oklahoma City or somewhere else – at least for now. I can guarantee Yukon officials are thankful for every penny of sales tax they see.
I know every year there’s a giant rivalry over a high school football game. In my opinion, that is blown up for the most part by people not even involved in the game, and certainly not district administration. In talking to them and in experiencing the interaction between Mustang and Yukon in activities like drama, band and more, it is clear there is a strong friendship and true kinship between our two communities. Now’s the time we show those friends we care.