The Norman Transcript

June 26, 2013

Year in the city coming to close

By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript

It was a quiet — and relatively short — last meeting for Norman City Council members who will be rotating off the council at the end of June.

Next week, Norman will formally thank and bid adieu to outgoing council members Roger Gallagher, Dave Spaulding and Linda Lockett. The reception will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, with comments by the mayor at 5:30.

Three newly elected council members — Ward 1 Greg Heiple, Ward 5 Lynne Miller, and Ward 7 Stephen Tyler Holman — will be sworn in at 6 p.m.

With a controversial high-density project proposed for Asp Avenue in Campus Corner withdrawn from the city agenda, this week’s council meeting proceeded smoothly.

Norman updated its water well permitting with requirements to protect wells from contamination, protect the aquifer and monitor the amount of water withdrawn to make sure those amounts comply with the limits imposed by the state. The issue of private water wells came to a head as Oklahoma moved into its third season of drought earlier this year. At that time, home owners associations and private individuals were looking toward private wells as a possible solution to limited water supply.

While state laws do not allow municipalities to prevent landowners from digging private wells, towns and cities may regulate and permit those wells. The cost of a permit in Norman is $50.

In other city business, the council approved the Norman Convention and Visitor’s Bureau budget. Approval had been withheld at an earlier meeting because council members wanted a more detailed budget than had previously been submitted.

An increase in the hotel/motel tax recently approved by voters means an increase in funding to the NCVB.

Council member Tom Kovach said he expected to see the payoff from this investment in the tourism agency through an increase in room stays, generating even more hotel tax income.

The NCVB’s primary source of income comes from the guest tax. The council particularly wanted to see how the agency plans to spend extra money generated by the increase in funding.

“I’m very happy to have gotten this budget,” Lockett said. “It would have solved a lot of problems to have gotten it earlier.”

Lockett said city leadership has an obligation to taxpayers for transparency on how money is spent.

Council members also voted to support transparency through the adoption of a formal policy on open meetings and records for all city boards, commissions and committees. While this policy was already in force, the resolution formalizes and codifies that commitment.

Council members also approved the purchase of two fire trucks from Conrad Fire Equipment in the amount of $1,038,060 to be paid from Public Safety Sales Tax funds. Fire Station No. 9 was delayed by severe weather this spring but should be completed in July.

Joy Hampton