The City Council of Oklahoma City huddled around their speakerphones on Tuesday for their first-ever teleconference meeting. It was only slightly painful in its awkwardness.
In spite of the requisite technical issues of the first use of the teleconference option, the council managed to vote for a $5.5 million stimulus effort for local businesses, as well as sell off some bonds.
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Today the City Council approved a $5,500,000 allocation of money from GO Bonds for the benefit of businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic shutting down normal operations. The package comes in the form of three programs.
First, businesses with fewer than 50 employees who have maintained employees in spite of a demonstrable year to year difference in earnings comparing mid-March of last year to their current earnings (do you follow me here?) may apply for an incentive payment of up to $10,000 for payroll reimbursement.
Alternatively, some businesses with 50 or fewer employees will be qualified for a no-interest, forgivable loan of up to $50,000. Those businesses would meet forgiveness requirements if they maintain levels of employment over the course of the loan term.
A third program would allow some businesses with 50 or fewer employees to access a 10-year 2% loan of $50,000-$100,000.
The program also includes $500,000 for administrative costs. We were told a website would be created, as the Chamber of Commerce is fond of websites.
I don’t understand money. I mean, I understand that the consumption of goods and services comes with the trade of currency. What I don’t really understand is Bonds and interest on bonds and who sells them and who buys them. I know it’s something that I pay for and that rich people trade, so I find it suspect, but less so than sales-taxes–which I find regressive by default.
So, today the Council, I think, voted to sell a lot of Bonds to a couple of multi-national financial corporations. Feel free to explain it to me next time you see me in person. If I trust you, I may even listen.
The Council again heard about potential fine increases for people blocking the streetcar with improper parking.
Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon* and Ward 2 Councilman James Cooper reported recently meeting with EMBARK representatives Jason Ferbrache and Jesse Rush about ongoing disruptions to streetcar services in downtown Oklahoma City.
There are a few hotspots downtown where many of the blockages occur. It was the opinion of Hamon and Cooper that before drastically raising parking fines all throughout the streetcar route, that signage be placed in these hotspots indicating the current fines and threat of vehicle towing.
The new fine schedule was deferred until July 21 with the City Manager’s understanding that new signs would be placed so that data could be collected on amelioration of blockages.
Throughout the meeting, His Honor the Mayor had to ask people who were not City Councilors to mute their phones. There was near-constant feedback including commentary from people who didn’t realize they were playing a role in the conversation.
At one point the City Clerk, Francis Kersey, called a vote and asked for Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner’s vote and a voice could be heard saying, “Greiner? I thought he quit.”
I only regret that I left my own phone muted throughout.
The next meeting of the City Council is scheduled for April 14. Whether teleconferenced or meeting in person is still to be decided.
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*Disclosure: This reporter is married to Ward 6 Councilwoman JoBeth Hamon