Wagoner calls for more transparency in city government, murky over details
As a candidate for Bartlesville City Council, Chelsie Wagoner is positioning herself as the “Constitutional Conservative” choice and championing the cause of greater transparency at all levels of government.
She will face Loren Roszel for the Ward 2 seat in the November 8 election.
“I think every form of government lacks transparency to the extent it should be,” she said.
More transparency needed in the budget
Wagoner is also calling for more transparency in the city budget due to concerns expressed to him by unnamed sources and after a review of past budgets for the city of Bartlesville.
“The distribution of what we provide to departments, I feel like it’s not adequate for every department. There are some that I feel like you’re given properly, and then there there are other departments that are not given enough,” she said. .
Based on his budget research, Wagoner thinks emergency service workers are “absolutely underfunded…especially when you think about the revenue we bring in. Then the sales tax. That’s more detailed, but the transparency of the budget itself is the budgets within individual departments.
“Administrative costs should be limited to ensure that emergency service employees and other municipal service employees are fairly and adequately compensated,” she said.
Emergency workers meet or exceed pay compared to other cities the size of Bartlesville, according to the city. Police and firefighters have secured a pay rise of between 11.5% and 20.5% in the 2021-22 financial year.
The city is doing everything it can to keep the budget process open to everyone, said city spokeswoman Kelli Williams.
Bartlesville holds annual public budget workshops, which invite citizens to voice their concerns, she said. Additionally, City Budgets from 2006 to present and City Audits from 2004 to present can be viewed on the City of Bartlesville’s website, and printed copies can be found at the Library of Bartlesville.
The water is not clean enough
Wagoner also said the citizens of Bartlesville deserve better, better water and that just meeting Environmental Protection Agency standards doesn’t mean the water is safe.
“When you talk about water in simple terms, water quality is a very wide range of details, so to put it in simple terms, it’s contaminants when you have clean drinking water. It’s the basic common term, but it’s a loose term,” Wagoner said.
She also criticizes the Bartlesville Water Department for claiming the city’s water only meets EPA minimum requirements — a standard she says hasn’t changed in 20 years — and because the city has increased water service costs without improving water quality.
“Everyone assumes it’s good enough when you look at the finer details. When you look at transparency, it doesn’t necessarily mean clean, healthy and safe,” Wagoner said.
However, she said she had no plan to improve the water quality or how to pay for it, adding that it would be up to the director of the water department to find out.
Wagoner said she didn’t discuss her concern with Terry Lauritsen, the city’s water services manager, but she said, “I emailed. I didn’t talk to him. specifically. It was about a year and a half ago. . It wasn’t related to the water quality.”
In response, Lauritsen told the EE that Bartlesville’s water is safe.
“In fact, legal is safe. Neither the EPA nor the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality rates water quality based on a tiered system. That is- that is, the water is either potable and usable or it is not,” he said. “Other than that, the City of Bartlesville exceeds minimum standards in every aspect of its drinking water. Water samples are provided to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality for testing on a regular basis.”
A full report on the city’s water can be viewed on the city’s website.
Tax is theft
As a homeschooler, Wagoner teaches her children that taxation is theft and embraces this belief in her life. She pledges never to support a tax increase.
According to Bartlesville’s municipal code, an increase in the tax rate can only be approved by a majority vote of registered voters. City council members can add tax increases to the ballot.
When asked if a person who adheres to the belief that taxation is theft should be responsible for how tax money is spent, she replied, “Yes and no.”
Wagoner clarified that bond issuances are separate from its tax-free pledge, but that it should review the transparency of the bond before backing it.
When asked if she would vote for a bond she backed 100%, she replied “It depends on the financial details”.
Municipal services are the only role of government
Wagoner also believes that the city government should only run city services.
Her main criticism of the Bartlesville city government is that it should not have been able to force her to wear a mask when entering a city-owned building during the pandemic since she is a taxpayer helping fund the city.
“Imposing masks or doing anything outside of the basic services we should be providing is considered overreach,” Wagoner said.
Wagoner did not specify what is or is not a basic service other than the mask mandate issue.
“I basically believe that’s the main issue. I feel like the specter of that is at the heart of it; anything that isn’t that falls into the transparency category.”
Wagoner said his primary motivation for running for office was to unseat City Councilman Paul Stuart, who has since decided not to run again.
Wagoner said Stuart had used the term “anti-vaxxer” — which she says is an insult — on a Facebook post in the past.
“So the words that were spoken were personal and that’s when they affected and personally attacked my family for the choice of slurs he chose to use,” she said.
Stuart does not recall the message and does not recall having any conversation with Wagoner about the message. “If there was a better term they wanted to call it, I would use it,” he said.