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Streets And Finance Top Meeting


November 8, 2018

Shawnee City Commissioners refused adopting a complete streets policy they said they weren't given time to review or discuss and that the city cannot afford at this time.

"There is no use trying to fool the people that we're going to do it when we're not – we don't have the money," Vice Mayor James Harrod said.

Commissioner Ben Salter agreed and added that the first he heard of the policy was when reading it in a local newspaper that reported the commission supported the new policy. Harrod said it isn't that he doesn't like the idea behind the policy but said the commission hadn't been given the opportunity to discuss it, that parts of it said it didn't have to be followed and the city would be unable to financially support or enforce it for at least two years.

"When we approve a policy that is something that should be (for us) to do but one paragraph says we don't have to do it," he said. "What the Blue Zones people need to see is we don't have the money to do what we would like and if we develop a policy, it needs to be followed. And there has been no consideration by the commission; it just showed up."

The policy, as Community Development Director Justin DeBruin explained, would ensure all types of travelers' needs would be considered in future street projects. He said it would apply to all projects that involve roadway or utility improvements that are in the public right of way.

Blue Zone representatives and members of the public spoke in support of the policy prior to the commission's consideration. Each said it would help make sure that those who walk, bike or use other transportation would be able to navigate the city in a more equitable way.

Commissioner Ron Gillham, Sr. said he researched complete streets policies online and found there was "nothing harmful it could do" and said it could be used as a "guiding light." DeBruin said adopting the policy could help the city be eligible for certain federal funds, provide flexibility and would be reviewed annually to determine its success.

Mayor Richard Finley also weighed in, stating that while he wants to be able to support Blue Zones initiatives, such as this policy, he found it to have "lots of shalls and wills" that are of concern to him. He explained that he doesn't believe the city should be the "police force" for Blue Zones.

Commissioner Mark Sehorn said he agrees with the concept but said the costs can "get overboard," especially when there are add-ons. He said the costs can get "so absorbent" and reminded others that these are "real dollars" needed to address those costs.

The commission deferred the item without giving a specific date to address it in the future.

Commissioners also received a report from Assistant City Engineer Michael Ludi regarding engineering projects that included preliminary study data that shows only about five percent of the city's streets "fall between very poor and poor, which is very good on the national percentage." The streets included in that report were those with asphalt or concrete and not those that are dirt or gravel, he said.

He said the field work for the study of the city's streets is complete but the data is being analyzed and another report will be given sometime in the future when that information is available. He said the list of capital improvement street projects lists Kickapoo first because it is one the city is working on at this time.

The commission approved directing financial advisors to seek bids for a loan to use as a possible financing option for capital projects throughout the city. Finance Director Chance Allison said the city has an opportunity to borrow up to $10 million this year with "favorable interest rate treatment" now and possible additional borrowing in the future.

The commission also agreed to defer until its next November meeting the selection of an executive search firm that can assist with locating a permanent city manager. A total of eight firms submitted proposals that range from $14,450 to $28,000, with the lowest bid coming from the only Oklahoma firm to submit a proposal.

In other business, the commission approved a compensation amount for Nicholas Atwood, who was named as the acting municipal judge. The compensation, which had to be approved through a city resolution, is equal to biweekly gross installments of $1,538.46 each.

The commission also approved the annexation of another 1.57 acres of land owned by the North Rock Creek School Board at 42308 Garretts Lake Road. And they approved an annual resolution to accept a facilities joint-use agreement with Shawnee Public Schools.

In addition, they unanimously approved an ordinance to amend city code in relation to the regulation of tobacco and vapor product use. The commission deferred action on authorizing the replacement of an engine for a 2012 flusher truck for the utility department so staff can study the issue more and bring it back to the commission at a later date.


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