On Tuesday, Jan. 19 at 6 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, a public hearing was conducted, concerning the 10-year renewal of Cable One, Inc. George Wilburn presented information regarding Cable One, answering questions from both the council and members of the audience.
One of the improvements, expected in the near future, are more high definition (hi-def) channels. There are already 28 hi-def channels available in Cable One's service. They don't plan to raise rates for this year, but a rate hike is inevitable with their costs increasing. Customers should expect a hike next year. When Cable One started carrying ESPN, they paid Cable One 8 cents per customer. Now Cable One pays ESPN $1000 a day. Cable One also recently laid $1 million in fiber to increase quality of their reception.
One big concern with cable service regards the disparity in coverage between Oklahoma City channels and Lawton/Wichita Falls channels. Wilburn explained that coverage is determined by what is called a Dominant Market Area (DMA). The DMA for an area is established by the Nielsen ratings for each area and maintained by the Federal Communications Commission. Kiowa County's DMA is within the Oklahoma City market. They must receive those channels. Jackson County's DMA is Lawton/Wichita Falls. This is the reason why Cable One customers have 2 NBC affiliates, 2 ABC, and so forth. Cable One has to give them those Lawton/Wichita Falls stations according to the DMA. But, knowing that most people here in Oklahoma want to receive Oklahoma City channels, Cable One brings those channels here digitally by fiber optics. That also explains why some reception appears to be better, as fiber brings a clearer reception.
Wilburn thanked Dan Scott for all of his help. Wilburn stated there are many competitors now. But Cable One offers 24/7 service through their call center. The City makes some money off Cable One service and it does not receive anything from satellite service. New channels are added based on decisions at corporate.
One interesting issue in the contract renewal for Cable One is that there will need to be some re-negotiation due to the pole attachment clause. This states that Cable One will pay the City $3 a pole for its equipment to be on the utility poles. In 1992, there were about 2754 poles. The City, through an oversight, has not kept track of the pole increase over the years. It is estimated Altus now has about 3700 poles. Also, Frederick charges Cable One $5 per pole, as opposed to the old rate we've been charging at $3.
Persons asking questions, raising specific issues and applauding service from Cable One included three members of the audience: Henry Hartzell, Norm Burfield, and Tom Yates. The consensus was that the City and customers are pleased with services provided by Cable One. The council will work on re-negotiating the contract for cable service with Cable One.
Following this public hearing, the meeting of the Municipal Trust Authority (MTA) was held at 7:10 p.m. All members were present.
The consent agenda included 1 purchase order from the fiscal year (FY) 2008-2009 for the Enterprise Fund totaling $1,282.22. One purchase order from FY 2009-2010 was approved for the Enterprise Fund for $1,109,721.77. Claims to various vendors for FY 2009-2010 were approved for $1,049,376.33. It was approved, minus 6 items that were examined by the council and then they were also approved.
Joe Don Dunham, Finance Director, presented the financial report. The City's expenses exceed its revenues by $2.1 million, but those revenues are collected one year in advance. MAPS is the main reason for this disparity. The City revenues are down only about 6%, in contrast to other areas which have been hit much harder by the economy.
The members voted to authorize the Electric Department to send out bids for the repair of damages caused by circuit 15, Oil Circuit Reclosures (OCR) failure. This is necessary for electric service.
The consent agenda included 5 purchase orders for the FY 2009-2010. These included: the General Fund for $69,655.25, the Workers Comp Fund for $27,041.48, the Assurance Fund totaling $68,373.32, the Airport Fund for $4,585.78 and the Emergency 911 Fund for $402.30. These were approved minus several items and then these items were also approved.
Personnel Director, Matt Coppock presented information on retirement benefits. The council approved Roger Nash receiving a lump sum of his retirement benefits.
An agreement between the City of Altus and Ronald J. Willingham and Sheryl J. Willingham was once again tabled by the council. This agreement concerns the Park Portion of English Village 6th Addition.
Resolution No. 2010-02 was approved by the council. This is an agreement between the Altus Schools and the City of Altus, which was approved as Resolution No. 2009-18 pertaining to the use of certain sales tax proceeds. This MAPS project was approved by the voters of the City of Altus.
The council approved the use of a portion of Hangar 33, by Southwest Technology Center (SWTC). Currently this hangar is leased by the city. This issue brought a lot of discussion because the city and SWTC are currently involved in a pending lawsuit. It was decided that the paint booth that SWTC wishes to install in the hangar would not impact the City adversely, and the council approved this item.
The Altus City Planning Commission had 4 items on the agenda for the evening. The first was approved as Ordinance 2010- 01 to change the zoning of 501 and 503 N. Hudson from Auto-Urban to Suburban Commercial. The second item was the preliminary Plat from the Laurel Homes 9th Addition, which was approved. The third, was the Preliminary Plat for the Laurel Homes 11th Addition, which was approved. The fourth item was the Preliminary Plat for the Laurel Homes 12th Addition, which was also approved. These approvals will eventually bring 36 new single family homes to Altus, based on the additional approval of the Council Drainage Committee.
The council also approved waiving the city's new residential construction costs for Southwest Oklahoma Community Action Group, Inc. (SOCAG) for the construction of 2 new single family residential units at 1213 W. Victory and 1212 W. Wingfield
During the executive session, the council considered the City of Altus vs Southwest Technology Center pending lawsuit, which was not discussed at any length during the open session following the executive session.
The annual evaluation of the Airport Director, Greg Camp and a one-step increase evaluation was approved.
The annual evaluation of Utility Manager, Janice Berryhill was approved for a step increase.
The Mayor appointed Jon O. Lagerberg as an acting judge for a trial of 3 cases, with the same defendant . This situation has caused a judge and an alternate judge to recuse themselves for this instance. Lagerberg, a Lawton attorney and alternate Court Judge will be paid at the rate of $65 per hour.
The City Administrator, Mike Nettles commented that funds will soon be available from the motel/hotel tax fund to be able to take on new projects to bring tourism into Altus. The council should be looking for projects that fill this need. Mike also said that the issue of gross revenues needs to be settled on the new Cable One contract.
Comments were made by some of the individual council members:
Peggy Risinger: None
Scot Simco: raised a question about revamping the (old railroad) Depot, now next to the City complex, as part of the tourism policy.
Jack Smiley: said that the pole issue could mean thousands of dollars for the City. "It could mean a time-consuming project, but a quick look at a 6-block area revealed 70 poles with cable. "
Don Johnson: None
Perry Shelton: None
David Brown: None
Rick Henry: said, "How can we redo hotel/motel fund to encourage tourism? Are there better ways to spend this money?"
Catherine Coke: replied she would research this issue and bring back information to the council.
Sid Willis: None
Mayor Gramling asked that a council committee meet with him regarding the fees that should be charged when City facilities are used. Many non-profits use the buildings such as the Community Center and then the City has to pay high heating and cooling bills.
The meeting was adjourned at 9 p.m.