NORMAN — The Norman City Council approved $521,400 for Legacy Park fountain enhancements, then — minutes later — slashed the general fund budget by $533,629 on Tuesday.
The two items dealt with different funding sources, but city council members commented on the irony during the debate over spending.
“We need something to set Norman apart,” Council member Chad Williams said prior to voting in support of fountain enhancements. The enhancement package passed in a 6-3 vote, with Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and council members Greg Jungman and Roger Gallagher voting against.
After nearly three hours of debate over the budget, the council adopted it by a narrow margin in a 5-4 vote with Williams, Gallagher and council members Dave Spaulding and Robert Castleberry voting against.
Following the routine adoption of the consent agenda that included water well permitting and new floors for Irving and Whittier rec facility gyms, the debate over the Legacy Park fountains started the controversial ball rolling.
Parks Director Jud Foster said the $500,000 fountain enhancement package would add seven water cannons, 21 spray nozzles, programming animation and colored LED lighting to the fountains approved in the base bid for Legacy Park amenities.
Jungman objected to the expenditure, saying he wants to pay the TIF off early so that sales tax money can be put into the general fund sooner.
Council members Tom Kovach and Jim Griffith said Legacy Park and its fountains will draw people to the area.
“I think we have one opportunity to do something spectacular,” Griffith said.
Rosenthal said the fountains are fine as proposed in the base bid, and the city does not need to spend $500,000 on dancing fountains with lights.
“It’s time to be prudent,” she said, adding that the city still will have a wonderful project.
“This is economic development with money that is already in the bank,” Castleberry said.