The Altus Municipal Authority and City Council held their regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, May 7, in Council Chambers of the Municipal Complex to discuss items on the consent agenda.
The AMA approved minutes for the special meeting between AMA and City Council held on April 23, and minutes from the regular AMA meeting also April 23. The AMA approved purchase orders for FY 2012-2013 for the Enterprise Fund for $450,282.43, and tabled the purchase order for FY 2011-2012 for the Enterprise Fund for $2,100 to The Prime Group, LLC for a Utility Rate Study. Councilman Rick Henry asked if AMA intends to pay for the service largely un-rendered. After further discussion, Councilman Dwayne Martin motioned to table the item to pay $2,100 to allow the Council to review the contract between AMA and The Prime Group, LLC.
Councilman Michael Beason indicated that authorizing an agreement with Fox, Drechsler & Brickley, Inc., for engineering services for design and permitting a new landfill cell may violate the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 that states, “all construction contracts exceeding $50,000 must be awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.”
“The distinction is that once you get the engineers plans and your going to construct it, then it become a public improvement or construction contract, and then you have to follow that law. But the engineer himself does not fall under that,” explained City Attorney Catherine Coke. “The whole purpose of that law is to anybody that is gong to construct a project that they have to accept competitive bids that have to be bonded. This is really a contract to design the project, not to construct it.”
“This is for preparations for plans and specifications and obtaining a construction permit from the State Regulators,” stated Bob Stephenson Chief of Operations.
“I believe you’re drawing a distinction that isn’t there, but if there is a distinction there, then I think that we better make certain that the distinction is there, because if we don’t Under section 122 under Title 61, we open ourselves up to a tax payer lawsuit,” explained Beason. “I’m new at this and I could be wrong, but if that’s the case then I want to see it in my agenda and I want it to be on the public record for the citizens to understand that we’re in the right.”
Martin motioned to table the item but it was denied with a vote of four to four, with Mayor David Webb breaking the tie by voting “no.”
JR Rowland motioned to authorize the Chairman to sign an agreement, contingent upon the City Attorney finding that it is legal to proceed, with an agenda item proving justification during the next AMA meeting. The motion was approved with a vote of six to two.
The AMA also discussed an agreement between the City of Altus and Freeze and Nichols, Inc., of Ft. Worth, Texas, in the amount of $235,000 to conduct an evaluation of the Round Timber Well Field located in Texas, and simultaneously look for other potential sources of water. Stephenson reported on recent discussions between his department and Freeze and Nichols, suggesting an approach to evaluate for ground water yield before continuing with any other phase of the over project. “Depending on what we find we’ll probably want to restructure some other options,” he said.
Councilman Perry Shelton wondered if the City could afford to buy the water if there is any yield.
Martin agreed that the rate the City would have to pay for water must be agreed on before this project goes any further. “I think that’s gonna be our biggest hurdle, and I don’t think we should spend a penny on doing anything in this field until were sure of where we stand on that contract,” Martin said. Additionally he explained that after analyzing the scoring process for the Request for Qualifications, that the system favors large companies significantly, and recommended to award an Agreement to the original developer, Fox, Drechsler & Brinkley, Inc., at a lower price. He later referred to minutes from March 26, where Financial Advisor James Wilson suggested that the City might find themselves in a lawsuit for not following their own scoring procedure, which at the time incited a decisive vote to continue with Freeze and Nichols. Martin stated that Wilson made a mistake and was inaccurate, adding that the AMA should have the ability and authority to reject Freeze and Nichols and look at other options.
There was concern from several council members on running out of time. “The only thing I know 110 % for sure is, Tom Steed and Lugert is going down as we speak,” said Councilman Rick Steen. “We’re going to have to come up with something or we’re going to be in a world of hurt pretty quick, because it just doesn’t seem like it wants to rain here anymore. We’ve got to get a supply of water going.”
After much discussion, the AMA unanimously voted to reject the proposal of Freeze and Nichols, and plan to call a special meeting in the near future.
After the AMA meeting adjourned, the City Council regular meeting commenced and heard comments from the public.
Tom Buchanan, Chairman of the Board of Freeholders drafting a City Charter, updated the City Council, reporting that the Freeholders have come up with a draft Charter containing their own language. Also, there will be a meeting on May 20, for Freeholders to discuss the draft further, and a Town Hall meeting on June 6, for all citizens in Altus to provide further input. Buchanan reminded the Council that “the clock is ticking,” and must present the Charter to the City Council by the end of June to then be presented to the public.
Asst. Police Chief Micheal Bell thanked the town leaders for their support during the Rock N’ Rumble. “Thank you to the citizens and everyone behind the scenes,” and volunteers, he said.
The City Council voted to appoint Councilman Rick Henry as Vice Mayor. “I make a motion that we continue with the Vice Mayor that we have now, Rick Henry,” motioned Councilman Steen. There were no other nominations, and Council voted unanimously.
Council members voted to ratify Ordinance 2012-21 as recommended by staff.
They also voted for the Mayor to not sign the Agreement between Freeze and Nichols to begin evaluation on the Round Timber Will Field.
Council members and the Mayor gave much praise for this past weekend’s Rock N’ Rumble Car Show and Cruise, especially to the Police Department, Fire Department, and Recreation Department, as well as Main Street Altus for making this the best year so far.