Chesapeake-Owned Nichols Hills Plaza Creates City Budget Shortfa - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Chesapeake-Owned Nichols Hills Plaza Creates City Budget Shortfall

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

The financial woes of the Chesapeake-owned Nichols Hills Plaza is creating a 20 to 30 percent shortfall in the City of Nichols Hills' budget. City officials say that deficit is forcing them to make difficult decisions to raise money.

At the Nichols Hills Plaza shopping area near N.W. 63rd and Western, businesses have been leaving and less money is being collected in sales tax revenue, according to the city.

"These stores have been important stores, and I'm fond of the people who work there," Nichols Hills resident Bill Parker said.

More than half of the area is now vacant, forcing shoppers' dollars away from Nichols Hills. It has resulted in a half million-dollar budget deficit.

"For retail sales, the Nichols Hills Plaza is one of our principle places that we historically have obtained our taxes," Mayor Steve Goetzinger told News 9.

Chesapeake Energy is trying to sell the area, which is creating an uncertain environment for store owners who pay rent to the energy company. Goetzinger is anxiously waiting for the future owners to start leasing as soon as possible.

Goetzinger says the city's slice of the pie goes to pay firefighters, police officers and other public employees. Already, Nichols Hills has been forced to cut positions, according to a letter sent to residents from the city. Now, city leaders are looking at increasing utility rates.

"We have not made a final decision as to what will be increased and what will be left alone," Goetzinger said.

Chesapeake representatives were unavailable to go on camera Friday, while residents hope the company's hardships will not have a long-term impact on their community.

"It's distressing that we're losing these merchants and the revenue from them," said Parker. " I'm sympathetic that the revenue has to come from some place."

Goetzinger says it is too early to know how much of a potential utility increase residents will face.

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