Thursday, April 16, 2015

Last Meeting For Two City Commissioners

Outgoing Sallisaw City Commissioners Vicki Sawney, left, Ward 4, and Ro Poindexter, Ward 2, were honored at a reception Monday evening immediately before the regular Sallisaw City Commission meeting, which was the last for both. Sawney will be replaced by incoming Commissioner Daryl Legg and Poindexter will be replaced by incoming Commissioner Jim Hudgens. Legg and Hudgens will be sworn into office at 2 p.m. Thursday at a reception in the council chambers, and their terms begin at noon April 20.

At Monday's meeting, the commissioners voted to put off a decision on awarding a contract for construction of an animal shelter. Sawney and Ward 1 Commissioner Ronnie Lowe voted for the awarding the contract, while Ward 3 Commissioner Julian Mendiola voted to hold off. Mayor Julie Ferguson and Poindexter both abstained from the vote, which City Attorney John Robert Montgomery pointed out counted as no votes. Consequently the measure failed to be approved.

The city commissioners also tabled a decision on property at 290 N. Cherry, where the former Star Furniture building is located. Jim Rogers, County Commissioner District 3, spoke to the city commissioners about the property, which is to go to a tax resale on June 8 for $23,713.55 in back taxes. The city also has a lien on the property for cleaning and mowing for $11,895. Rogers said the county wanted to know if the city was interested in owning the property, because the owner, Property Choice Plus of Arkansas LLC was interested in donating the property to the city.

But city personnel pointed out the problems with that proposition, including that the city would have to purchase the property for at least the amount of the back taxes; that the property is in the flood plain, which makes it an inappropriate property to build on; and that it would cost at least $20,000 to tear down the existing building, which is dilapidated and unusable. Montgomery told the commissioners, "It's a bad deal." If no one bids on the property on June 8, it was pointed out, then the property becomes "a county problem."

During the Sallisaw Municipal Authority meeting, the commissioners also tabled a decision on awarding a $57,765 engineering contract for services related to the relocation of electricity and fiber utility services along U.S. Highway 59 north of Sallisaw. Acting City Manager Keith Skelton explained the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) recommended getting the engineering survey so that the exact cost of moving the utilities could be determined. It has been estimated that relocating the utilities, so that ODOT can widen and improve the road, will cost the city between $600,000 and $700,000, which the city does not have. Skelton said that, at a meeting earlier this year, ODOT officials suggested that other means may be found to help pay for the relocation, if an engineering report comes up with a more exact cost. But Montgomery advised the commissioners that paying $57,765 for an engineering report to estimate the cost for a project, for which the city has no money, may not be a wise decision. The commissioners voted to table a decision on awarding the contract for an engineering report until they review the city budget next month.

The commissioners also:

-approved an ordinance to regulate the cellular towers in the city limits for the benefit of users, the safety of the public and other properties, and for the city's aesthetics;

-approved an amendment to the city's employee retirement system, which will allow the new city manager to participate;

-tabled a decision on the management of Brushy Lake Park. Present manager Mike Hancock has advised the city he is retiring as of June 30. Now the commissioners must decide on if that city park should continue to be operated by a manager, through contract, or by city employees, among other questions. The commissioner agreed to table a decision until new City Manager Clayton E. Lucas III officially joins the staff on May 4.

-The commissioners approved a rezoning request by Sequoyah Enterprises Inc. for property in the industrial park to be rezoned from industrial to office, so the building, formerly leased by Cellofoam and recently sold by the city, can be leased by the owner to the Department of Human Services for offices.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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