In a long teleconference, the Oklahoma City Council considered a wide range of important business items and a couple of arguably less important ones.
The Council voted unanimously to allow the City Manager to, on a case by case basis, allow a temporary forbearance on certain loans for a period of up to six months.
These loans include Community Development Block Grant loans, Home Improvement loans, HUD loans, and other loans overseen by the City or Economic Development Trust or other public trusts, as the case may be.
This effort will allow people owing payments on loans in some cases to suspend monthly payments for up to six months, at which time they will essentially re-amortize those loans. Interest will still accrue during that time, but the interest rates on these loans are very low, according to the City Manager’s office.
Ward 6 City Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon* asked if the forbearance would be passed along to tenants of the holders of these loans. The answer was that it would have to be worked out on a case by case basis but that it was the City Manager’s intent to do so.
This lays great discretion and trust at the feet of the City Manager and his staff.
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MAPS 3 Cash
An item came before the Council to approve the allocation of $32,975,000 in excess tax collections from MAPS 3. Mayor Holt explained that the allocation of the tax money was limited to capital improvement by statute.
He said that by custom it was limited to MAPS 3 projects. He then went on to say $9,000,000 of the money would be used for the MAPS 4 project of a coliseum at the State Fairgrounds.
The rest of the money shakes out thus:
- $19,000,000 – Union Station purchase, renovation and inclusion into the upper portion of Scissortail Park and improvements to the lower portion of Scissortail Park, including a connection to the Oklahoma River
- $4,975,000 – MAPS 3 Senior Health and Wellness Centers
- $975,000 – MAPS 3 Sr. Wellness Center No. 1
- $1,800,000 – MAPS 3 Sr. Wellness Center No. 3
- $2,200,000 – MAPS 3 Sr. Wellness Center No. 4
There was a lengthy and somewhat contentious discussion about equity and parity that followed.
Ultimately, the Mayor made an amendment saying that the reserve fund of up to $7,000,000 would be considered for the Senior Wellness Centers before being considered for anything else.
More Like Bill Bored
Once again applications came on for Simplified Planned Unit Developments that included billboards not owned by Lamar. And once again, Lamar sent their attorney, William Hickman, to tell the City Council that they’d better not approve them.
This internecine billboard strife has been commonplace over the last year since the city declared a moratorium on billboards along Lake Hefner Parkway. Now, any time a new application for a billboard comes up, it seems that Lamar is ready to fight it.
Attorney David Box, representing the applicants for the billboards, addressed the Council saying that Lamar is afraid of competition. He said their tactic and tone have changed, but their message remains the same and that message is that they are afraid of competition.
Hickman disagreed and said that Lamar simply wants to know which of the city’s own rules the city plans to apply to billboards.
Both applications were approved.
The third and final hearing of an ordinance banning the feeding of animals in public parks was heard. The ordinance passed.
It is now illegal to feed animals in Oklahoma City’s public parks. This ordinance applies to birds and other wildlife. It does not apply to fishing or to feral cats.
The meeting took a surprising twist during items from Council when the typically stoic Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner spoke up.
He said that he was requesting that shelter in place orders not be extended beyond May 1.
Greiner cited that the number of people dying from COVID-19 complications with precautions in place demonstrate that it may not be useful to shelter in place.
It was Greiner’s conviction that the cost of keeping businesses closed was greater than the potential loss of life from the disease that is ravaging our planet currently.
Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper disagreed and said, “We don’t need to listen to our guts, we need to listen to scientists.”
The next meeting of the City Council will be held on April 28 at 8:30 a.m.
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