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Council receives water update; passes electric fee increase

Jason Angus jangus@civitasmedia.ciom

April 1, 2014

The Altus Municipal Authority and City Council received a water development update from the Southwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan Group on Tuesday, April 1, during their regular meeting. Among other items on the agenda, the AMA approved a $1.8 million loan agreement with the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority resulting in a $3 increase per month for electric customers.


Duane Smith of the Southwest Oklahoma Water Action Plan Group informed the AMA that the group is still in the data collection phase and expects to hand over a draft report in 30-45 days outlining specific steps for water development and it’s possible reuse. Smith’s report will aim to provide solutions for both short term and long term water reliability. In addition he commented that the plan and process should be transparent to the public, be based on “sound reasoning and a technical foundation,” and have a clear implementation schedule for completion.


The report will compile data for alternative water sources including development of the Round Timber Water Well Field, the Mountain Park Conservancy District water well field, widening canals, building an additional reservoir, and reusing some water that is no longer potable.


“I’m more excited now than I was a month ago for Altus and for Southwest Oklahoma,” Smith said. “After taking a good close look at it, I do believe that there are water resources here in our area that we can identify and put into production that will supply that reliable water to Southwest Oklahoma.”


OMPA Media Specialist Jennifer Rogers provided an update on customer energy efficient reward programs, and reported that construction on their new 103 Megawatt natural gas power plant in Ponca City, is underway with a projected completion date of 2015.


The AMA also received a positive annual audit report presented by LaDonna Sinning of Arledge & Associates, P.C. of Edmond. Sinning stated that the City’s financial standings have improved and are going in the right direction. Three findings were included in the report. The first finding concerned a negative fund balance from the previous year where funds were not transferred by the year’s end; second, the improper payment of an employee(s); and third, the auditor recommended reconciliation of the City’s Pooled Cash account in a more timely manner. Of those findings, those issues have been resolved and corrected.


“Your finance department did a fine job as well as your administration and the support that was brought in from outside consultant folks to get this [audit] out timely,” Sinning stated. “Strong efforts were made.”


Sinning also commented that as most other City’s are trying to establish a Reserve Fund for emergency situations, Altus’ Reserve Fund increases. “The fact that you’ve established one and that you’re working to fund it puts you at the front edge of where most cities are,” she said.


Following those presentations, the AMA approved several agenda items. Resolution No. 2014-13 was approved to adopt a $22,100 budget amendment for the AMA of the City of Altus FY 2014-14 to reflect money received from the Strategic Military Planning Grant for the Veteran’s waterline project.


Resolution No. 2014-14 was approved to authorize the AMA to enter into a loan agreement and Note with OMPA in the amount of $1.8 million dollars for the purpose of funding all expenses to decommission the Nona Substation and to add a second transformer at the Tamarack Substation and distribution upgrades. Later, the City Council subsequently approved Ordinance No. 2014-03 implementing a $3 “substation infrastructure fee” on electric meters for 9,131 homes and businesses to fund the loan with OMPA. The fee will terminate by November 2016 or when sufficient funds are in reserve to pay of the Note. A decrease in electric fees will also decrease as other OMPA loan agreements end.


AMA also voted to recommend that City Council approve documents regarding the Oklahoma Department of Transportation US HWY 283 project to relocate segments of the Round Timber Well primary pipeline. Later during the City Council meeting, Council approved an agreement between the City of Altus and Carstensen Contracting, Inc in the amount of $671,435 and Resolution No. 2014-17 appointing Augie Luna, Project Manager as the purchasing agent for this project.


The AMA also repealed a previous policy to record executive session proceedings via audio device. Council members J.R. Rowland and Perry Shelton expressed that a “free flow” of opinions were absent during recent executive sessions due to audio recording being conducted. A vote passed to return to the previous procedure for taking minutes of executive session. “Yes” votes: Rowland, Shelton, Rick Steen, Rick Henry, Chad Osborne, and Mayor David Webb. “No” votes: Michael Beason, Dwayne Martin, and Mike Patterson.


Following adjournment of the AMA, the City Council meeting commenced.


During the City Council meeting, Council approved Resolution No. 2014-15 adopting a $3,300 budget amendment for the Fire Department for the FY 2014-15, and Resolution No. 2014-16 for “year end transfers” as referenced by the Auditor in the amount of $296,000. Council also approved Resolution No. 2014-18 accepting Laurel Homes 9th Addition Amended Final Plat.


Council also approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the Altus Air Force Base Fire Emergency Services and the City of Altus Fire Rescue for sharing resources to conduct fire hose testing and fire hose repair. The City of Altus Fire Rescue will be able to utilize AAFB hose testing equipment for annual testing.


Council approved the Street Department to seek quotes for CRS-2 chipping oil from sole source Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions and 1/4” limestone cover chips from sole source Dolese Rock of Cooperton for competitive pricing.


City Manager Elizabeth Gray gave an additional water update stating that the Mt. Park Conservancy District continues to work with the Bureau of Reclamation on a basin study and permit acquisition to begin development on their well field. Also, Water Department Manager Gene Leister has worked with Fox, Drechsler, and Brickley, Inc., on pump development at Round Timbers and Holloway water field. The engineer recommended bypassing the pump station and installing a “re-fab booster pump station.”


City Council then entered into executive session, and in open session voted to approve the City Manager Contract with the changes as noted in executive session.


Following comments and reports from the City Manager, Council Members, and Mayor, the meeting adjourned.