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April 22, 2013

Density, budget talks to continue as city council considers creation of economic advisory board

NORMAN — In the city this week, Norman City Council will continue high density discussions, vote on the creation of an economic advisory board and vote on an economic incentives policy.  Budget talks will also continue with the city’s enterprise funds on this week’s agenda.

On Monday, the Council’s Community Planning and Transportation committee will meet at 5:30 to discuss high density.

A group of residents from Ward 4 have formed an ad hoc committee and submitted a density ordinance mirroring the city’s draft ordinance but reflecting the concerns — chiefly height restrictions and parking — the group believes are important to the community.

On Tuesday, the full city council will meet in a non-voting study session at 5:30 to discuss the enterprise funds portion of the FY 2014 city budget.

Norman’s enterprise funds — operations financed and operated like a private business — include water, sewer and trash. Those funds operate based on rates that are only increased by voter approval. Rather than generating income for the city, those revenues meet the basic needs they are designed to cover but may not cover major capital improvements.

The Finance Committee discussed the General and Special Revenue funds budget this past week. Capital funds will be discussed on May 7. A public budget hearing is slated for May 28, and the council will consider the budget for adoption on June 11.

The regular city council meeting will follow at 6:30.  Council members will have an opportunity to approve the creation of an economic advisory board and to debate and approve or reject an economic policy for incentives.

The use of cash or cash equivalent incentives such as tax waivers which are popular in other communities such as nearby Moore, have been highly debated in Norman. Some say tax incentives are only one tool in the tool kit of incentives a city might use to draw a desirable business to town. Others oppose all incentives saying business should support itself.

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