Proposals to fund a management audit of City of Lawton operations and formally set a funding formula for Lawton’s newest Tax Increment Financing district will top the agenda when the City Council meeting today.
The session, the first regular for Ward 3 Councilwoman Linda Chapman and Ward 5 Councilman Allan Hampton, will begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th and C.
The audit is a proposal that was first made several years ago: analyze city operations to improve efficiency. Today’s meeting includes two items toward that goal: hire Novak Consulting Group to conduct the “organizational performance and efficiency study” and accept a $70,000 donation from Liberty National Bank to pay for almost half of the $142,800 estimated cost.
According to the agenda commentary provided by City Manager Michael Cleghorn, the audit is designed to improve organizational performance, determine proper staffing levels and streamline city government’s organizational structure. City officials said the Novak team “has had significant success in working with many local governments to review operations, structure and staffing to improve organizational performance and efficiency.”
The firm, which has worked with more than 300 local governments across the country, also is skilled in helping organizations track progress toward implementing program improvements. City officials said the customized plan for the City of Lawton will cost $142,800.
In a related item, the council will be asked to accept a $70,000 donation from Liberty National Bank, dedicating those funds toward the cost of the audit. The council’s actual action will be amending the 2019-2020 budget to designate that donation into the city manager’s professional services account to help with the expenses. The city itself would contribute the remaining funds, according to the agenda commentary.
In other business, the council will continue work associated with designation of the Republic Paperboard plant property in the west industrial park as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. That designation, made in December, makes the site one of 13 TIFs identified in a project plan covering west Lawton industrial property as well as the Airport Industry Park south of Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport.
That designation is important because it allows the City of Lawton to designate increases in ad valorem and sales tax revenue generated by the property toward the cost of infrastructure improvements. The provision sets a baseline assessment of the property; any increase in ad valorem which comes as a result of the industry’s investment — as well as sales tax revenue that is generated — can be designated to cover infrastructure costs.
Council action today adopts a resolution setting the formula for determining the sales and use tax, with those revenues to be designated to what is formally identified as TIF 3. The resolution specifies the non-designated 2 percent sales and use tax generated by the construction, investment, and development activities in connection with the Republic expansion.
The designation would come under the agreement that Republic and the Lawton Economic Development Authority are negotiating to handle the TIF activities, city officials said. The revenue will come from the $94 million capital investment that Republic intends to make in its modernization effort, and Republic also has pledged to create 20 new permanent jobs with an average annual compensation of $108,000 per position.
In other business, the council will consider:
• Meeting in executive session on three items: an update on contract negotiations with city firefighters, the annual evaluation of Municipal Judge Nathan Johnson, and discussion of the independent contractor agreement with Interim City Attorney Bob Ross. Ross was designated interim effective Sept. 1, acting as head of the City Attorney’s Office until a permanent attorney is hired.
• Amending its contract with Garver LLC, expanding its scope of services to include an assessment of equipment, conditions and maintenance procedures at the wastewater treatment plant, and recommendations for capital and process improvements. Garver has been working for the City of Lawton since 2014 on an alternative water supply study and report, and also has done other work for the city and other entities. Garver is expected to help the City of Lawton respond to an October Notice of Violation from the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality because the plant has exceeded permit discharge limits over the past 2½ years. Garver’s work is not to exceed $68,700.