NORMAN — Shortly before 11 p.m. the Norman City Council approved the creation of a Norman Economic Development Authority trust following lengthy public debate. The measure passed six votes to three with Mayor Cindy Rosenthal, and council members Roger Gallagher and Dave Spaulding voting against.
The council cut off the public debate, but comments resumed during the public comments portion at the end of the meeting.
Tuesday’s council meeting was another long and bumpy night full of public disputation, not the least of which was over the council’s approval of a contract between the Norman Utilities Authority and Garver LLC to provide preliminary design, final design and bidding services for Phase 2 of the Water Reclamation Facility improvements at the existing southside sewer plant.
The unanimous council approval came after lengthy discussion over whether Sewer Sales Tax funds should be spent on this southside project or reserved for a future northside plant.
The actual contract with Garver was not the issue of dispute, but options for funding the contract were shifted to allow to set aside some of the funding for a future northside plant.
A decade ago, plans for the city projected that the proposed northside plant would be built before the southside plant was expanded. A proposal for the northside plant was stalled when the Department of Environmental Quality did not approve a pipe crossing over the Little River, however. Now, the plan to improve and expand the southside plant is the more affordable option.
In addition, DEQ regulations require upgrades at the southside sewer plant.
“We’re at the point where we have to design something for the treatment plant,” Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.
Three funding sources were proposed in the budget to pay for the southside improvement project — the Water Reclamation fund, collected from sewer customers; the five-year Sewer Sales Tax approved by voters to pay for improvements in existing sewer service; and the Sewer Excise Tax, which is levied on new development and must be used for expanding capacity.