Council holds bi-monthly meeting

The City of Cherokee held a public hearing on January 27, 2021 for public comments regarding the FY 2021 CDBG Grant Project encompassing proposed street resurfacing and improvements. The meeting was called to order at 5:45 p.m by Mayor Karen Hawkins. Mayor Hawkins led the Pledge of Allegiance and said the invocation. During the roll call, all members except for Jeremy Hickman answered; Mr. Hickman arrived at approximately 5:50 p.m.

The proposed street resurfacing covered in this grant includes streets west of Oklahoma Street and south of 5th Street. There were no public comments given. Lance Miller made a motion to adjourn, and Adrienne Wessels seconded the motion. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 5:51 p.m.

The Cherokee Development Authority meeting was called to order at 6 p.m. Roll call was performed; all members were in attendance. David Collins made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 13, 2021 meeting, and Wessels seconded. The minutes were approved.

Claims were presented; Wessels made a motion to approve the claims, and Hickman seconded. The claims were accepted.

CPA Jana Walker presented the Annual Financial Statements and Accompanying Independent Auditor’s Report for the year ended June 30, 2020. She reported that the audit was very positive, with no material mis-statements made. In spite of the negative financial elements of the COVID-19 pandemic and the down-turn in the oil and gas industry, the City actually increased our net position compared to the end of Fiscal Year 2019. Although tax revenues were down, the City increased the total grant revenues, and total revenues exceeded total expenses. Ms. Walker did say that FY 2021 will be more challenging due to the effects of COVID-19. Tracy Reed will submit the audit to the State of Oklahoma. Collins made a motion to accept the audit results, and Hickman seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Reed of RS Meacham presented the December 2020 financial reports. Cash balances and income both increased during December despite the drop in oil and gas activity and the business effects of Covid-19. Expenses were maintained at the budgeted level, while revenues were higher than budgeted. Miller made a motion to accept the report, with Wessels seconding; the motion carried.

Ms. Reed presented proposed amendments to the FY 2021 budget, based on the first six months of the fiscal year. Revenues and expenses have been adjusted to reflect the projected changes from the budget as originally proposed. Additional profits will be used for various projects. We plan to use surplus earning and grants to pay for new water meters across town; existing meters are well out of warranty, and are not accurate. Miller made a motion to approve the budget amendments, and Hickman seconded the motion. The changes were approved.

City Manager Mike Jones presented the Manager’s Report. All information has been submitted to DEQ for the water loss audit; the first meeting will be on February 11. The new generator for the lagoons has been delivered, and will be installed when the road is sufficiently dried out.

Under new business, Miller commented that his water bill showed that he has a leak; Mr. Miller is concerned about the lag time between the beginning of the leak and the time a customer receives their water bill. Jones responded that charges for one water leak within a two-year period may be forgiven; citizens wanting forgiveness for charges related to a leak may appear before the Council with their request.

Wessels made a motion to adjourn, and Hickman seconded. The meeting was adjourned at 6:42 p.m.

The Cherokee City Council meeting of January 27, 2021 was called to order at 6:42 p.m. Roll call was performed, and all Council members were in attendance. Collins made a motion to approve the minutes of the January 13, 2021 meeting, and Wessels seconded the motion; the minutes were approved.

The claims list was presented. Wessels made a motion that the claims be approved, and Miller seconded the motion. The claims list was approved.

CPA Walker presented the Annual Financial Statements and Accompanying Independent Auditor’s Report for the year ended June 30, 2020. She reported that the audit was very positive, with no material mis-statements made. In spite of the negative financial elements of the COVID-19 pandemic and the down-turn in the oil and gas industry, the City actually increased our net position compared to the end of Fiscal Year 2019. Although tax revenues were down, the City increased the total grant revenues, and total revenues exceeded total expenses. Hickman made a motion to accept the audit results, and Wessels seconded the motion. The motion passed.

Reed of RS Meacham presented the December 2020 financial reports. Cash balances and income both increased during December despite the drop in oil and gas activity and the business effects of Covid-19. Expenses were maintained at the budgeted level, while revenues were higher than budgeted. Wessels made a motion to accept the report, with Hickman seconding; the motion carried.

Ms. Reed presented proposed amendments to the FY 2021 budget, based on the first six months of the fiscal year. Revenues and expenses have been adjusted to reflect the projected changes from the budget as originally proposed. Hickman made a motion to approve the budget amendments, and Collins seconded the motion. The changes were approved.

The Council discussed and considered taking action on adopting a Citizen’s Participation Plan for the FY-2021 CDGB program. In order to qualify for this grant, the City must survey citizens living in the area west of Oklahoma Street and south of 5th Street. This survey asks for residents to report number of household members and income level. This information will not be shared with any other government entity; it is solely to establish the City’s qualification for the grant. Miller made a motion to adopt the Citizen’s Participation Plan, and Wessels seconded. The motion passed; surveys will be sent to those living within the set parameters within the next week or so.

The Council discussed and considered taking action on adopting Resolution 2021-001, a resolution to apply for FY-2021 CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) for proposed street resurfacing and improvements. Hickman made a motion to approve the application for the grant, and Wessels seconded the motion. The motion passed.

The Council discussed and considered taking action on the adoption of Resolution 2021-002, a resolution on leverage (matching) funds for FY-2021 CDBG proposed street and resurfacing and improvements. In order to qualify for the CDBG, the City must certify that matching funds of $260,000 are available for the project. This resolution proposes that $200,000 from the budget and $60,000 from the utility trust be set aside for this project. Collins made a motion to adopt the resolution, and Miller seconded the motion. The resolution was adopted.

Jones presented the Manager’s Report. There will be a Special Meeting on February 4, 2021 at 12:00 p.m to approve three Propositions to be placed on the ballot of the upcoming April election.

Proposition 1 will follow the Open Meetings Act, and will require meetings of the City Council once a month, and not twice a month, as is currently required.

Proposition 2 increases the amount of matching funds allowed from $50,000 to $100,000, and removes the requirement that such monies must be used to match a federal or state grant, limiting the use of such monies for construction, repair and replacement of necessary street, water, sewer, drainage, airport, fire, economic development and/or park capital improvements.

Proposition 3 will allow the City to utilize banks outside the city limits, and removes the minimum rate of return of 3% as currently stands. Due to banking trends, it is impossible to find a rate as high as 3% anywhere.

The city cannot place a street light on the corner of E179 Road and Ohio Street because that corner contains an electrical junction. They do have the option of placing a light pole 100 feet east or 100 feet south of that corner. Adding a light pole would cost the City $3,000 per pole. The Cherokee Sale Barn actually does have lights on this corner, but they are not currently working.

Major street repairs have been completed. When the weather is warmer, the city will order a load of asphalt to repair smaller potholes.

NextLink antennas have been installed and are operational. Internet has been installed at the City/County Library, the RO plant, the airport and the City Park. Connections at the City Pool will be complete soon.

Firefighter Kyle Spade has completed his probationary period, and new bunk gear has been ordered for him. The city currently has 22 active volunteer firefighters, with three still on probation.

The utility billing system was not updated for rates over 5,000 gallons (residential) or 3,000 gallons (commercial). This process has been corrected.

Officer Hall was involved in a departmental accident on January 15 while responding to a call with his emergency equipment activated. Officer Hall was transported to an emergency room, and was later released. OMAG inspected the vehicle on January 21; it will be taken to Alva for repairs as soon as possible. An internal investigation into this accident is ongoing.

There was no new business.

Miller made a motion to adjourn, which was seconded by Wessels. The motion carried, and the meeting was adjourned at 7:28 p.m.

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