Council to discuss capital budget, FOP lawsuit

Mindy Ragan Wood, The Norman Transcript, Okla.
·2 min read

May 4—The Norman City Council will convene in executive session on a lawsuit Tuesday evening after a discussion on the next fiscal year's capital budget.

The agenda for Tuesday night's special session shows a detailed presentation on the city's completed and ongoing building projects, infrastructure and equipment needs.

The meeting will review projects currently under construction like the municipal complex renovations, an extension of Legacy Trail at 24th Avenue NW and 36th Avenue NW, utility relocation on 36th Avenue NW, sidewalks on Flood Avenue and stormwater improvements.

The council will also hear discussion on the voter-approved Street Maintenance Bond Program, adopted by voters on April 6, 2021.

Voter-approved special sales tax fund projects, like those paid for in part by the Public Safety Sales Tax and Norman Forward Sales Tax, are also up for discussion Tuesday night.

While both funds have lagged in revenue, the PSST has been subsidized by the city's general fund. The necessity is no surprise to staff and council, but has grown at a rate more than originally anticipated, The Transcript has reported.

The Emergency Operations Command Center is a PSST project, but has yet to be built following a revenue shortfall and the failure of a general obligation proposal package. The $16 million facility is short $9.5 million.

Scheduled for fiscal year 2022 under Norman Forward are park improvements, the Indoor Aquatics and Multi-Sport facility and the Senior Wellness Center. While the sports facility was scaled down to meet its existing budget, the $4.8 million shortfall for the senior center was paid with Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Recovery Act funds, The Transcript reported.

The council's executive session on a lawsuit from the local Fraternal Order of Police could include discussion on a motion to grant attorney fees to the FOP attorney, Stan Ward. Court records show Ward is seeking attorney fees, but the total amount is unknown. It is the last motion filed in the case, which has yet to be closed.

After the city lost a lawsuit that found the council violated the state's Open Meeting Act during its June 16, 2020 meeting, the city filed an appeal to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The FOP alleged the council did not follow the law because it did not list three amendments that cut $865,000 from the Norman Police Department's proposed budget increase for the fiscal year 2021. The high court noted the absence of those amendments and ruled in favor of the FOP, The Transcript reported.

Mindy Wood covers City Hall news and notable court cases for The Transcript. Reach her at mwood@normantranscript.com or 405-416-4420.