Chartered Council reaches stalemate on new APD video surveillance

Jason Angus Reporter

December 4, 2013

The Altus Municipal Authority and City Council operated under the new City Charter during their regular meeting held on Tuesday, Dec. 3, thus Mayor David Webb was an active voting member on each item brought before Council. The City Charter was signed by Governor Mary Fallin on Nov. 6.

During the City Council meeting, an item was considered to identify funds to install new top of the line cameras in 29 Altus Police Department vehicles, to supply video evidence that could potentially save the City millions in future court cases, however the funding for the $157,510 project is not included in this FY budget.

Among comments made, Councilman Rick Steen stated, “I agree they are a good investment but I feel more comfortable with going through the budget process, putting it up for bid or whatever… because this is what got the City in trouble in the past, is going in and buying large non-budgeted items in the middle of the year.”

Councilman Michael Beason commented, “Chief Bell, and Chief Murphy, said, “Well, maybe we do need to wait for the budget process.’ My concern is, you never know when we’re going to need that camera evidence.” Beason informed that lease options are available if funds are identified.

With the Mayor’s vote, and Councilman J.R. Rowland being absent, the motion resulted in a four-four stalemate, which Councilman Rick Henry then added, “Well that took a long time for the old Charter to rear it’s ugly head.”

At the opening of the AMA meeting, the Altus High School Shooting Sports team was honored, giving special recognition to the four-person Junior Team (8-10 grade) for winning the Oklahoma FFA Sporting Clays State Championship, as well as the 15 person Sports Shooting Team winning the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports State Championship.

“I’m very proud of the program and the accomplishments they’ve made,” Mayor Webb said before introducing Coach Lawrence Wilks, and advisers Bruce Farquhar and J.C. Stafford. Farquhar formally introduced members on the Junior Team: Ben Brown, Dominick Naslschuz, Josh Hurst, and Nevin Lawson.

“These four young men scored in the top ten of the contest,” Farquhar said. “Ben was the high individual in the State, who shot at 24, which is unheard of. These other guys were up in the top end as well. These guys won by six birds and they beat the senior team, which is unheard of.”

The remainder of the 15 person team who won the Oklahoma Scholastic Shooting Sports State Championship was then called up to be formally recognized before City Council, including Braden McElwee, Gannon Smith, Braydon Gipson, Zachary Plye, Justin Sward, Abby Abernathy, Morgan Jones, Erin Waldroop, Sierra Arsenault, Kody Redden, and Jasmine Martinez.

Items approved by the AMA include the consent agenda (without minutes); regular meeting dates for the Altus Municipal Authority for calendar year 2014 (also approved for the City Council); a Utility Easement from the Altus Municipal Authority to the City of Altus to move an electrical line located on property commonly referred to as the Gordon Thomas property and authorized execution and filing of record; and Bid #13400 from Wichita Construction, Inc. of Geronimo for energized equipment and Shoestring Enterprises, LLC of Olustee, for non-energized equipment for contracted directional boring and trenching.

An amended item to authorize repairs to the Veteran’s Substation was tabled until the next meeting since no quotes have been provided at the time of the meeting for approval. Altus Power Superintendent Dan Scott provided an update on the Veteran’s substation transformer stating an oil test performed shows total combustible gases are at 0.9, and when it reach 1.0 will have to turn it off. Necessary repairs include removal of the 700 or more gallons of oil to access internal parts of the transformer for repairs.

The AMA also approved Resolution No. 2013-53 to adopt the budget amendment of the Altus Municipal Authority of the City of Altus for the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 for $135,000, not be spent on chemicals at the Water Treatment Plant.

During the City Council meeting, Altus Police Deputy Chief Mike Bell with the Tobacco Education Committee of the Jackson County Health Department asked Council to revisit an issue regarding tobacco-free parks and a chance to include tobacco-free city and buildings to an existing Ordinance and vote at the first of 2014.

Altus Chamber of Commerce President Holley Urbanski, with Parks Director Freddy Perez, informed Council of their attendance at the 23rd Annual Environmental Excellence Awards Celebration held in Oklahoma City, as part of the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and Oklahoma Department of Transportation program, and of their success with Clean Up Altus for having received the Rookie of the Year award.

City of Altus Emergency Manager Lloyd Colston reminded everyone to be aware of the possibility of rain, freezing rain, sleet, and snow, and cold weather within the next 72-96, and to pay attention to the weather.

Audience Member James Mahan commented that work could have been done earlier to draw water from Round Timber Water Well field stating, “Here we are in 2013, at the first meeting in December, and there is not an item on you agenda concerning the drought and lack of water in the City of Altus. I realize not all of you were on the Council in 2011 or 2012, but you were on in 2013, and you still have done nothing to get the infrastructure and delivery of water to the City of Altus. We have a water shortage and that shortage affects the citizens and businesses in the City of Altus and the economics… It is a failure to do your job as City Council, and you’re not doing your job for the citizens of Altus.”

City Council declined to approve the proposed dates for the recommended 2014 Holiday Schedules for City of Altus employees to be revised and brought back at the next meeting.

Council approved to purchase playground equipment and mulch for Hightower Park, Indian Hills Park, and Canterbury Park under State Contract at a cost of $32,241.00.

An update was provided concerning the Preliminary Plat for the Hunter Pointe Addition Part XI, and will proceed with the Final Plat plans to be approved by the Planning Commission and City Council before there is a Public Hearing.

The Mayor appointed Henry Hartsell (not present) to the Cemetery Advisory Board, before the new City Manager, Elizabeth Gray (per City Charter), gave her reports and comments followed by City Council members, and Mayor reports and comments.