City certifies TIF petition;, challenge likely

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

The entrance to University North Park welcomes shoppers to the Tax Increment Finance district, which was established in 2006.

Four former Norman mayors are challenging an effort to send a City Council tax increment finance decision to a public vote.

Former mayors Bill Nations, Bob Thompson, Lynne Miller and Dick Reynolds co-filed the challenge to the referendum petition requesting a citywide vote on the council’s amended project plan for the University North Park tax increment finance district, according to a news release from attorney Sean Paul Rieger.

The former mayors are questioning the legal sufficiency of the referendum petition.

The challenge was filed today in Cleveland County District Court.

“We believe that every process involving the citizens of Norman, whether it be administered by the government or in the form of a citizen petition, should be undertaken with honesty and integrity at its core,” the mayor stated in the release. “We feel, as do others, that this petition did not follow multiple safeguards required by law and, therefore, did not live up to those standards of honesty and integrity and should be dismissed.”

The petition challenges a Nov. 26 city council vote that approved a revised project plan for the TIF district. The referendum petition questioning the council’s decision was filed with the city clerk on Dec. 23, 2019 by Stephen Ellis. The city published a notice of the petition on Jan. 3 giving residents an opportunity to challenge the petition.

“This agreement went through an appropriate and transparent vetting process and was approved by a vote of the duly elected-members of Norman City Council,” the former mayors said in the release. “As former mayors, we want to see Norman succeed as a great place where people want to start a business and raise a family. We cannot sit idly by when the fragile financial condition of the City is at risk and the integrity of an important civic process is in jeopardy.”

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