Street repair priorities, a once-a-week trash collect program and actions to designate an interim city manager will be discussed Tuesday during a special meeting of the City Council.
The session, which is open to the public, will begin at 1:15 p.m. in the third floor conference room of Lawton City Hall at Southwest 9th and C.
Council members had agreed early last week to the special meeting to discuss street priorities in the 2008 and 2012 Capital Improvements Programs, and to consider a once-a-week trash collection program by instituting a pilot program in four areas of the city. However, city officials said Friday that an executive session had been added to discuss the appointment of an interim city manager "pending the selection of a new city manager."
The executive session addition is in response to a surprise vote during the Oct. 23 regular meeting to terminate former City Manager Larry Mitchell, effective immediately. The council voted 5-4 for termination (Mayor Fred Fitch is allowed to vote on actions to hire or fire the city manager), after meeting in executive session for Mitchell's evaluation review, which was required twice a year under the terms of his contract. The vote angered Fitch and Ward 5 Councilman George Moses, who said from the council floor that Mitchell had not been told in executive session that he was facing a termination vote.
Ward 2 Councilman Michael Tenis disputed Friday that Mitchell wasn't given a chance to defend himself against charges, noting there had been lengthy discussion about issues while the council was in executive session. Moses said Friday there was discussion about Mitchell's performance, as called for by his evaluation, but said Mitchell had not been allowed to answer charges pertaining to the reasons for his termination, because termination was not discussed in executive session.
While council members terminated Mitchell, they did not designate an acting city manager before adjourning for the night and have not said how the replacement process would take place, discussion that is expected to begin Tuesday. Assistant City Manager Bryan Long, under the terms of his employment, acts in the city manager's stead when the manager is absent, but Long said he has not been appointed acting city manager.
Set street priorities
The agenda also will allow council members to discuss the priorities they want to assign to street upgrades that will be funded in the CIP programs.
Public Works Director Jerry Ihler has said city staff wants the council to help identify $4 million worth of streets priorities, so design plans may be initiated. Having those design plans "in hand" means the city could be ready to launch construction as soon as the funds were available and the council signaled its approval. City streets officials have some ideas of their own; earlier in the month, Ihler told a citizens group city staff has identified 11 streets that are "safety concerns," meaning they have damage that poses threats to vehicular traffic and should be upgraded as soon as possible.