By Alisha Thompson
Interim City Manager Ricky Harness was formally offered the position of City Manager at the Aug. 8 council meeting. His answer is expected at the Sept. 12 council meeting if a special council meeting to address the offer isn’t held before that date. The offer received the unanimous support of council members present at the meeting.
A hot topic in this meeting was the possibility of closing the railroad crossing at Atlanta Street.
Harness said that this was a grant that was coming out of the US Department of Transportation but was being spearheaded by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. “The crossings here in Davis, they want to be their number one project for the state,” Harness explained. “They have an intent to submit two packages. One for the City of Davis and one for a smaller project in Moore. These funds are available to help address railroad safety issues, crossings, concerns.”
Harness went on to explain that the intent of this project was to relocate the crossings. He said all of the crossings in town would have the transfer lanes “slide” to the south. The council was presented with ideas for the project. “Basically, it would allow us to still have space for Stillwater Milling. For their build out. It provides ample space for the rock quarry to have their build out and then it sets those transfer lanes going south down under the bridge at Primrose. It would clear the Main Street crossing it would clear the Benton Ave. crossing. The current plan would require the closure of the Atlanta crossing the closure of crossing on Hanover coming out of the Mac Trailer area.
Mayor Brian Davis asked if this was the option that was chosen for the city and said he attended a previous meeting. Harness said that the option that was presented to the council was presented with additional information about the needs of the build outs. “There still may be some room for us to have some conversation. What this resolution does is gives us permission to work with the State and BNSF to go after the grant and work through things,” Harness said.
Mayor Davis said he was concerned about the possible closure of Atlanta because of the school access needed. Harness said he thinks that the railroad people are looking to get rid of a headache and close the crossing. He thinks the tracks at Atalanta have to remain for the distances needed for the project.
Councilmen voted to approve the resolution to move forward working on this project but the council made it clear they did not approve of the Atlanta closure.
Cross Bar Offroad Park and Midground Creators were in front of the council again regarding a new contract with what would be a changed business relationship with the City of Davis.
They found themselves in front of the council earlier this summer after it was discovered Midground Creators did not have insurance for the offroad park. They were given 90 days, per their existing contract, to come up with insurance. During these meetings, it was discovered the management group was willing to renegotiate their contract to an independent contractor relationship.
In the end, this type of contract was more beneficial to the City of Davis. The City of Davis has the final word in the contract with Midground Creators. The renewal will take place at the City’s option. City Attorney Mark Melton said that 60 days before the renewal the City can send notice of a non-renewal. Midground Creators has the right to do the same.
In section 1.1 of the contract that was accepted by trustees it said: By execution of this Agreement, the parties desire to super cede the Lease Agreement in all respects and move from a Landlord/Tenant relationship to a Contractor relationship for the management of the ranch on the terms and conditions stated below.
Councilman Stan Jones asked Justin Ramsey with Midground Creators how the industry standards have changed for this type of operation regarding insurance. Ramsey was quick to say rates have tripled if not quadrupled. He said that they are working on three different insurance policies. They have one policy back and two in underwriting. Their cost for insurance would be around $40,000 a year with the city decreasing their requirements from a $5 million dollar policy coverage to $1 million dollars.
Two management contracts were presented to trustees. Questions were asked regarding presented totals in the contract and suggested changes to the contracts were addressed. There is no current documentation with the City of Davis detailing who is a part of Midground Creators, either.
Ramsey is checking with his accountant to see if they can provide reconciled financials to the City of Davis by the 10th of every month.
Councilman Clint Grinstead was the lone no vote in accepting the changed contract with Midground Creators. He was worried about setting a precedence with other lessees making a request similar to the ones Midground Creators did for assistance. “I like consistency as much as anybody and I like for everyone to be treated the same,” Grinstead said. “I just don’t know that the city, or me personally with my vote, would want to be set up with every lessee like that. If it comes to it, everyone’s going to be coming running.”
Mayor Brian Davis said that instances such as these should be addressed on a case by case basis. “I think Justin has brought in a lot of growth to Cross Bar and a lot of other avenues of revenue that wouldn’t be brought in,” Mayor Davis said. “The growth has just been tremendous.”
When the contract is signed by Ramsey and Midground Creators they have seven days to produce insurance and pay the $25,000 payment that wasn’t paid this year. Ramsey was asked if he could pay the $25,000 in seven days and he said yes. He would have to borrow it.
The City Manager will be in charge of overseeing Cross Bar Offroad Park management, insurance and issues that arise.
Davis City Council
Councilman Josh Oakley was absent from the August council meeting. Resolution #610 authorizing application for financial assistance from the Oklahoma Forestry Service was approved allowing the fire department to purchase 25 sets of wildland fire gear. City Planner Ralph Coppenbarger Jr. said that he’s assisting Fire Chief Dusty Parsons in applying for this grant through SODA on an 80/20 matching grant. This will replace the older wildland firefighting gear. Mayor Davis said the wildland gear needed to be replaced. “It’s kinda like the radio towers and antennas, it’s important.”
The city’s cost is $4,000. Harness said he suggests the city had the time to work through and find the $4,000 since it wasn’t in the fire department’s budget.
Resolution #611 authorizing application for financial assistance from the Leary Firefighters Foundation to purchase 7 sets of fire bunker gear was approved. The cost is around $3,000 per set. There isn’t a match with a $25,000 maximum.
Resolution #612 was approved casting a vote for trustee of the OkMRF to fill the expiring term of trustee representing District 3. City Clerk/Treasurer Susie Suther said that it was a request by OkMRF for the city to vote on the position and approved by resolution. Her recommendation was Donna Doolan. Suther said Ms. Doolan has held the position but she recommends her based on her CPA background and financial background.
Davis Police Officers and the department’s K9 officer will receive new armor vests in the amount of $28,396.25 with funds donated by the Chickasaw Nation. Davis Police Chief Dan Cooper said this would cover the cost of all the new vests. He said the vests are more comfortable and the officer is more apt to wear them their whole shift.
Ordinance 07-2022 was updated per the council’s approval to amend the Title 11 Zoning Regulations, Chapter 8A R-1 Single Family Residential District, Section 4 Site and Structure Requirements as recommended by the Planning Board. In the July planning board meeting a family approached the Planning Board after inheriting property that was 50 wide, but Davis City Code has it being a 60 foot minimum. The property meets the 7,000 square foot minimum. Councilmen voted to change the change from 60 to 50 foot minimum frontage.
Councilmen entered into executive session for around an hour and a half to conduct the annual performance review of the City Treasurer and the discussion of hiring a city manager.
Mayor Davis said he would fill out an evaluation form for Suther and it would be placed in her personnel file.
Suther said that the overall tax revenues were down around $12,000 from last year and the balances were holding strong. “Whenever we did the water rate increase we added the stipulation that funds in excess of $5,000 would be transferred over into that restricted fund for water and waste water infrastructure only. This is the first month we are making that transfer. Funds have finally reached above that threshold that we but in place there. So, $88,747.97 is transferring over into the water and sewer infrastructure fund for water and waste water,” Suther said.
Davis Municipal Authority
An official with Garver engineering gave an update regarding the 60% completion of plans for the Waste Water Treatment Plant. This presentation was an abreviated version of a meeting that took place earlier in the day on Aug. 8 with officials at City Hall.
A large number of concepts held true from the 30% update. Steel and concrete will affect the cost of construction of the Waste Water Treatment Plant. The project didn’t experience radical inflation prices with steel and concrete.
The 30% cost estimate came in at $12.6 million and at 60% the project is slated to cost $13.6 million. The biggest impacts are steel, general pipe increases, concrete and steel inside the reinforced concrete. The project engineer said they are trying to be conservative about the numbers and pad those numbers with a bid date several months into the future. The bid date is planned in early 2023. The engineer said they are working on ideas to value engineer the project if price increases continue and there are some redundant units that can be cut out if costs continue to increase.
The project should be permitted and ready to construct by Thanksgiving or Christmas.
Harness’s spending limit to cover contracted services and personnel expenses was raised to cover expected costs for the coming months. Harness’s spending limit is $25,000. The spending limit was raised to $50,000 to cover contracted services at Turner Falls.
The next council meeting will be Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Council Chambers located at 308 South Third Street. The public is invited to attend.