The town of Gene Autry approved its $42,000 budget in a unanimous council vote ending the fiscal year and beginning the next in the black.  
“We are excited because when we first walked into this two years ago the town was a mess,” Mayor Kyle Lawson said. “This year for the first time, we’re in the green instead of the red. The goals is to focus on our infrastructure and town improvements.”  
Lawson has spent the last two years cleaning up after the previous administration’s mess. Former Mayor Kathrine McQuistion was charged with embezzling more than $130,000 from the town’s funds by making unauthorized cash withdrawals from the towns bank over the course of 13 months.
McQuistion was sentenced to 10 years in prison, and ordered to pay $10,000 in restitution.
Lawson has been dealing with the aftermath.
“I’m 6’5” and the bills stacked up in town hall were taller than me,” he said. “Everyone has worked hard to turn this around and see this community thrive. We still have a long way to go, but if we keep working together we will get there.”
The town ended the fiscal year $10,000 under budget, Lawson said. Though there isn’t extra money for improvements, town officials are hoping to receive a grant that will make up the difference. Lawson and other town officials are working on applying for a $55,000 grant through the Southern Oklahoma Development Association, with the hopes that they will be able to fix up the Gene Autry Museum and towns’ gymnasium.  
Currently the town hall and museum share a space, Lawson hopes that will change in the future but for now wants to fix what’s there.
The town faced a financial strain when fixing up their museum after the Oklahoma Department of Corrections closed the inmate work centers in the area. Lawson said the town relied on affordable labor in restoring the museum.
Gene Autry officials won’t know if they received the SODA grant until later this summer.