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IMPACT NORMAN: City Hall Happenings

on July 15, 2019

Before we celebrated Independence Day, we watched with great interest the start of a new term at city hall.

We’d be remised if we didn’t extend our sincere thanks to Mayor Lynne Miller and Council Member Robert Castleberry for their many years of service. Both served admirably and gave their all.  Both chose not to seek another term, so on July 2nd in the council chambers we watched the swearing in of our new mayor Breea Clark and even numbered council members with much fanfare and excitement.  We appreciate our returning councilmembers: Bierman, Carter, Hickman, Wilson, Holman, and Scott; and look forward to working with our new councilmembers Petrone and Scanlon.  They all have an important and challenging job ahead of them as they work to govern Oklahoma’s third largest city.

One week into a new term, the council begin to tackle an interesting opportunity; how to address an expiring .25% county sales tax that is currently being used to pay for the county jail.  As you’ll recall, the voters of Cleveland County adopted this tax to build for a new county jail.  The jail has been built and enough tax has been collected for the tax to end early.  The County is considering going back to the voters and asking for a renewal of 1/8% of the current county sales tax for jail operations and other public safety related issues.  At this recent Council Conference, the Council discussed what needs could be addressed if Norman voters decided to renew the remaining 1/8%.  Most of their discussion revolved around funding public transit, and an opportunity to support job retention and creation.  As you know, the city is taking over citywide bus service from OU.  While federal dollars are being transferred to the city to operate the bus system, more revenue is needed to provide Saturday service and routes to various corners of our community.  In the coming weeks, Council will continue this discussion and decide if they want to put this and/or other issues to a vote of the public; most likely later this year. There will be more dialogue in this area at their next Council Study Session on Tuesday, July 16th.

This same week, we attended the first meeting of the Charter Review Commission.  This Commission was appointed by the Council to review and make recommendations to our city charter.  Our charter is the document governing our community.  Any changes must ultimately be approved by the voters, so we’ll be watching with great interest what comes from this commission.  Here is a PDF of the resolution adopted by Council and currently being considered by the Commission.

Two years ago, the city adopted a Center City Form-Based Code.  This Code impacts parts of core Norman.  Earlier this year the council put an administrative delay in place, essentially halting new projects in this area.  After months of work from a citizens committee, updates to the Code are now ready for Council consideration.  These amendments were recently adopted by the City Planning Commission and first read on the Council agenda.  If things stay on track, the council will take a final vote on these amendments at their July 23rd meeting.  Here is the Planning Commission agenda with more information on the proposed Code amendments for your review.

Lastly, we’d like to extend a hearty welcome to our new city manager Darrel Pyle.  Darrel comes to us from Hanford California.  He has decades of management experience and a personal connection to Norman, his son attended OU.  Darrel and his wife visited our community throughout his son’s collegiate career and always enjoyed their time here.  They looked for an opportunity to make Norman their home and this career move was the perfect chance.  We are excited for his arrival and look forward to his leadership.