Thursday, January 18, 2018

Hudgens Wants to ‘Make a Difference’



“I feel like I can make a difference,” is why Sallisaw Mayor Jim Hudgens is seeking election to serve another term as the city’s mayor.

Hudgens points to his experience as Sallisaw’s city manager and as a member of the city’s commission. Altogether, he said he has 40 years in municipal works.

He said, “I want to provide good quality service to the citizens without raising rates.”

Hudgens said his three goals for the city are to lower the city’s debt, fund the city’s main projects and to help the city to continue to grow and develop by helping existing businesses expand.

Hudgens pointed at city projects to be completed, such as reworking the north electric substation, upgrading the wastewater treatment plant, at an expected cost of about $2 million, and the city has borrowed $800,000 for the Hwy. 59 project. He would also like to see the city’s street program renewed. 

-About the city’s proposed splash pad, which is already partially funded by a grant, Hudgens said he has some concerns about the proposed site on the old middle school grounds. He explained the water for the pad is an issue. Hudgens said he would like to see the Sallisaw Municipal Swimming Pool modernized, and perhaps the splash pad built at the same site. He said that could save money by having the water treated at the same site by the same equipment.

-About incentives to attract businesses and manufacturers to the city, Hudgens said, “Incentives are a two-edged sword. You can give away more than you get.”

He said the city is limited in what incentives it can offer. Ad valorem taxes all go to the county and schools, and the city can’t abate sales tax revenue.

“There are very few new businesses out there and competition for them is high. We need to focus more on existing businesses and their expansion,” Hudgens said. “We should control utility rates and provide good services at the best cost we can manage.”

-About a city charter update, Hudgens said the charter has some issues that could be addressed.

“But we have a lot of issues on our plate,” Hudgens said about city government. “If the other commissioners were interested, I believe it would be OK.”

-About food trucks in town and competition with other restaurants, Hudgens pointed out the trucks must purchase city permits which cost between $500 and $600.

“The city can’t pick and choose,” he said. “But we can provide for the public safety.”

-About a new building for the Sallisaw Chamber of Commerce, Hudgens said the city is not responsible for the chamber’s place of business. The city does currently provide the chamber with a building. But because the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) is planning to revamp U.S. Highway 59, and the new highway layout will take away the front-door parking at the chamber, the city was paid about $200,000 by ODOT. Hudgens said the city is not obligated to provide the chamber with an office building. He said the chamber’s current building, at the corner of Wheeler (U.S. Highway 59) and Cherokee has parking on the north side of the adjacent railroad tracks and additional parking may be developed on the east side of the building.


Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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