A special meeting of the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust (OCEDT) is scheduled for Monday at 4:00 p.m. by teleconference to repeat the agenda from March 31.
This comes after Free Press revealed that the trust had, in fact, held a meeting March 31 but was noted as “canceled” on the City’s Public Meetings Calendar which could have diverted the public from participating.
Also, the public was not given ample notice of a Special meeting under Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act by not listing it as a special meeting on the agenda, on the Public Meetings Calendar, and not giving 48 hours notice.
The stakes are high since the trust took action March 31 on $5.5 million in economic aid for Oklahoma City’s businesses, a land deal for a downtown parking garage, and spending from two tax increment finance (TIF) districts.
The $5.5 million economic aid program has already received around 175 applications with the window closing for making those applications Friday.
The meeting’s legitimacy came into question under Oklahoma’s Open Meeting Act because of the problems.
Also, in an attempt to avoid any further notice errors, City Clerk Frances Kersey has ordered the Public Meetings Calendar to be removed from the City’s website at OKC.gov.
The agenda for the meeting Monday gives information on how the public can call in.
Kersey told Free Press in a phone call Friday that the chaos of shifting all of the regular meetings to teleconferencing special meetings overloaded city staff who made errors in posting to the Public Meetings Calendar.
She said that some others in City Hall had suggested that to recover, the OCEDT could just meet again to ratify their earlier actions on March 31.
“I said if we’re going to do this again, we’re going to do it the right way,” Kersey told Free Press. “We’re going to do the whole meeting again.”
That’s the view of Dr. Joey Senat, an associate professor at Oklahoma State University and the author of two books on open records and open meetings in Oklahoma.
In our story about the “canceled” meeting, we reported that according to Senat, the meeting would have to be held over again as a real meeting since the first one had not been in compliance with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
Senat believes that the violation was so obvious it would make the City and the Trust vulnerable to a lawsuit later.
The meeting on March 31 and then the compliant meeting for Monday had financially significant items on that agenda.
The City Council had done their part and voted for a complex joint resolution that would pump $5.5 million in City general obligation (GO) bond economic development money quickly into the City’s businesses being crushed by circumstances of a shelter-in-place order to combat the spread of COVID-19.
To learn more: OKC City Council votes $5.5M aid to City small businesses
The OCEDT then has to vote on the same joint resolution and put it to work. The Alliance for Economic Development staff will work with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce staff to apply the money to several categories of business in the City of Oklahoma City limits.
Agenda items also include the transfer of land from the City to the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority for construction of a parking garage next to the new Convention Center and Convention Center Hotel currently under construction.
Disbursement of money from two TIFs for projects are also on the agenda.
Instructions on how the public can call in and ask questions at the designated time are at the top of this agenda for Monday.
Updated: Monday, April 13, 7:30 a.m.
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