Miami City Manager Jeff Bishop said his goal is to increase the bonding capacity of the City of Miami. A resolution was passed providing specific economic development incentives for construction of buildings for business purposes by means of utility infrastructure credit by the Miami City Council at Monday's regular meeting.
“The resolution is really the first part of the process which would help empower the city manager and would help educate possible investors on lawful options for economic development incentives with the city,” Miami's City Attorney David Anderson said.
Specifically, Bishop gave a power point presentation detailing the incentive plan and said with an assessed valuation of the City of Miami presently at $42 million the City's bonding capacity at 10 percent is $4.2 million, a figure he is not happy with accepting.
Anderson informed him that Miami's present City Charter only allows bonding of 5 percent or $2.1 million.
“When you talk to most people their perception is that the Miami sales tax is really high, and they're right. The Miami sales tax is really high, but it is the county's portion that is really high,” Bishop said.
He presented charts showing that Miami's city sales taxes is comparable to others in the state of Oklahoma and he then showed a chart depicting the county's tax as much higher than others in the state.
Bishop told the council that all other states allow cities to use property taxes except Oklahoma and he said this forces the county to raise the sales tax to fund very important projects.
Bishop's proposal for the new economic incentive's formula uses the new property taxes assessed on developed property, less the old property taxes paid, and multiplied by three. This equals the utility extension credit to the developer or landowner to get utilities to the property using city easement or city owned property.
Schultz said the council routinely is brought requests for incentives by developers and must weigh the benefits with the costs to the City of Miami.
“We think it's our job to promote growth. About a year ago we had a person get upset because they thought we didn't give them a deal and that we gave somebody else a deal... What it does is formalize the process and creates a more even playing field,” Schultz said.
An ordinance adopting an investment policy presented by Bishop was tabled by the council for action until the next meeting giving more time for review of the ordinance and allowing for a public hearing on the matter. (See further details in future editions of the Miami News-Record.)
The Miami City Council's vote on the Ottawa Tribe's request for placing land in Trust was to grant an extension and the decision was tabled for now. Regarding the United States Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Notice of Non-Gaming land acquisition applications by the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma to place real property located at 226 South Main and 309 South Main into Trust with the United States government, which would cause the same to become Indian country as defined by federal law, any potential action by the council was stalled.
City Attorney David Anderson said he had met with the BIA's Deputy Superintendent for Trust Service Mary King. “She brought out for me big, thick three-ring binders that contained the Tribe's application, unfortunately she couldn't let me look at them. She said that it's the policy of BIA that they could only release those documents for review by anyone if I file, on behalf of the city council, a Federal Freedom of Information Act request,” Anderson said.
Therefore Anderson asked for a 30 day extension for the required comment period, which the council approved. This would allow time to request and review the application for a fair evaluation and comment on it for a decision.
When asked by Councilman Scott Trussler if the Tribe might directly provide a copy of the Trust application for review expediting the process, the Ottawa Tribe's Chief Ethyl Cook said she would consult the Tribe's legal counsel regarding the matter.
“In light of recent activity over the past 24 months we are just extremely cautious about everything,” Trussler said. “It's just in an abundance of caution.”
Councilman Rudy Schultz asked Cook if the delay imposed problems or burdens for the Ottawa Tribe. “No, I think two weeks is not a big deal, because until we get it actually in Trust we can't even apply for a grant to start improvement on the land,”Chief Cook said.
An ordinance regarding the adoption of certain model codes presented by Anderson was voted in unanimously by council members.
Anderson told the council that a few years ago the Oklahoma Building Code Commission enacted a Statewide Uniform Building Code Act standardizing building codes in municipalities and counties. Mandatory adoption of the state building code takes effect Nov. 1. Anderson said the City of Miami's ordinances had previously adopted other codes, he reviewed them and updated them to be compliant with state's codes, and added automatic self-updating features.
The codes were also reviewed by Miami's City Engineer Chuck Childs and Fire Chief Ronnie Cline. Eight additional codes were adopted and Anderson said efforts would be made to inform local contractors of the changes to the city's building codes and the City would make the new codes available in some form.
“So, some of our existing codes are in conflict with what you've been talking about and and your resolution clears that up?” Mayor Kent Ketcher asked.
Anderson answered that it is actually an ordinance and it does comply with the state mandate.
Bishop said this has become common for states to provide statewide standardization of building codes to make it simpler for contractors to work and bid work statewide. There was also a brief discussion of the effects of the state mandated code on rural building in the county.
The regular meeting agenda included employee recognition of Mark Hill for 10 years of service beginning in 2002 with the City's Street Department and as of 2009 service as Miami's Risk Control Manager. The recognition was presented by Nancy Wells who thanked him for his dedicated service.
Council approval was granted of a request from the Miami Lioness President Pam Tillman to waive the rental fees and deposit of $540 for the Civic Center for the Chili Feed being held Oct. 25 to benefit the group's projects.
Acceptance was made of an award of $110, 264 for FEMA-1985-DR-OK, City of Miami, Individual Safe Room Project #11 after an update of the project from Miami's Emergency Management Director Glenda Longan.
Longan said application was made for 75 safe rooms that was submitted on March 15 and approval for 50 safe rooms was given on Aug.1. She said of the103 resident's applications 75 were eligible, but funding was approved for just 50 to be installed.
To be eligible for the 75 percent funding of up to $2,000 per each shelter, the property owner could not be located within a flood plain.
The City of Miami is requiring the property owners to use FEMA approved installers and asking that the shelters be in place by March 1 before the next storm season arrives. Longan said the awardees must pay up front for the shelters and the reimbursement process could take approximately three months.
She stressed that application for this round of shelter funding is over, but said as more funding becomes available in the future anyone who does not yet have a safe room could apply for the next program. The council thanked Longan for all of her work in acquiring the grant funding for the storm shelters.
After discussion in executive session the council voted to allow the City Attorney settlement authority for claims totaling $5,094.39 without the LARCO settlement. Claims approved for settlement authority are: The Robinson claim in the amount of $118.52 for vehicle damage attributed to a hole in a city street; the Rae claim in the amount of $300 for reimbursement of private electrical contractor expense attributed to allegedly mistaken code requirement made by city electric crew; the LARCO claim in an unspecified dollar amount for private phone system damage attributed to allegedly negligent work performed by city crew while working on a transformer that services Sonic Drive-in Restaurant; the Steinke claim in the amount of $1,012.07 for damage to a private automobile which collided with a city utility truck, the claimant attributes the damage to the allegedly negligent operation of the city vehicle in the center turn lane on North Main Street; and the McCready claim in the amount of $3,663.80 for medical expenses arising from a personal injury attributed to the allegedly negligent operation of the slide at the city pool.
Two claims were denied by the council; the Pendley claim in the amount of $910 for damage attributed to a sewer backup, and the Wickliffe claim in an unspecified dollar amount for private water line damage attributed to city crew use of a post hole digger on the city side of the line.
The possible adoption of an ordinance providing for a claims policy for the City of Miami came from City Attorney David Anderson who asked the council for direction in how to proceed with accumulated claims. Councilman Trussler asked for the opportunity to review the options available before determining a policy and the item was tabled.
Pastor of the Miami First Baptist Church's Pastor Rick Longcrier gave the invocation for the meeting.