Business and Community Affairs to consider board appointments

NORMAN — Business and Community Affairs to consider board appointments

The Norman City Council will say goodbye this week to council members Carol Dillingham, Ward 4, and Dan Quinn, Ward 8, while welcoming newcomers Greg Jungman and Chad Williams. The annual swearing in ceremonial meeting starts 6 p.m. Tuesday, half an hour earlier than usual city council meetings.

As the city offers appreciation for the council members’ years of dedicated service, it also will administer oaths of office to re-elected members Tom Kovach, Ward 2, and James Griffith, Ward 6, and to new members Jungman, Ward 4, and Williams, Ward 8.

The council also will elect a mayor pro tem and representatives to the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments Board of Directors, a council member to serve on the board of trustees for the city’s Norman Retirement System, and a council member to serve as a representative and ex-officio member of the Norman Convention and Visitors Bureau Board of Directors.

Prior to the special council meeting, Norman’s city volunteers will be welcomed with an appreciation reception at 5 p.m. at city hall.

Economic Development Advisory Board: Of particular interest this week will be the Business and Community Affairs Committee meeting 9 a.m. Thursday. According to the agenda, discussion will revolve around the creation of a Norman Economic Development Advisory Board.

After lengthy debates regarding the creation of a Norman Economic Development Authority, it was decided that city council members would serve as trustees. The city council approved the NEDA on June 12, with plans to create an advisory committee of financial professionals.

“This is the starting point. We all agreed that an advisory board is appropriate and makes a lot of sense,” Council member Hal Ezzell said. “Our starting point is what was pulled out from the last agreement (during NEDA discussions), and we’ll go from there. That discussion is going to start on Thursday.”

Assistant City Attorney Kathryn Walker will make a presentation to the Business and Community Affairs Committee, including a draft ordinance to create the Norman Economic Development Advisory Board. Positions would be appointed.

A five-member board is proposed, with one member to be nominated by the executive committee of the Norman Chamber of Commerce, one nominated by the Board of Directors of the Norman Economic Development Coalition and three nominated by the mayor and confirmed by the city council.

Council member Tom Kovach said he would like to see a seven-member advisory board. Kovach believes all of the seats should come from city council appointments.

“The chamber and NEDC should not get to pick who is on that board,” Kovach said. “What we need is people with the right credentials.”

How the advisory board will function in conjunction with NEDA will be adjusted based on the council’s input.

“This economic advisory board’s primary function is to give us a good technical evaluation of the financial feasibility of a proposed project. It’s (the) council’s job to decide if it’s the right kind of project for Norman,” Kovach said. “NEDA should determine first if a project is desirable before a project goes to the committee for evaluation.”

In the draft proposal, all five members of the advisory board would be required to have experience in law, finance, accounting or banking.

“I have serious questions about the proposed makeup of the board under this proposal,” Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. “It’s not sufficiently broad enough to protect the public interest.”

Rosenthal said she thinks the advisory board should include more members. Also, she has concerns about how it would function because of the increased ability of economic committees to hold closed-door executive sessions.

Under the proposal, the advisory board would make recommendations to the city council regarding:

· Proposed economic development policies and programs

· Requests for city-funded incentives for private businesses as proposed by the Norman Economic Development Coalition

· Development of strategies and plans for promoting economic development in Norman.

The committee would also:

· Investigate and report on economic development issues as assigned by the council

· Assist in identifying assets, resources and incentives appropriate for furthering economic development in the city.

Joy Hampton 366-3539 jhampton@

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