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July 27, 2017

Audit and Apology on Town Special Meeting


The Luther Town Board will meet in a Special Meeting Thursday, March 23, at 6:45 pm.

The board will review the audit for the fiscal year that ended last June, and was required to be submitted before the end of 2016. Alas, the audit will be presented on March 23, nearly four months behind schedule. An advance copy of the audit is going around. Town Board Candidate Paxton Cavin shared several findings at the Candidate Forum Tuesday evening.  Read the audit here in advance of the meeting. 

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The meeting also has a couple of hot button items. And they both refer to the controversial Seventh Street project on the west side of town. Even though a majority voted to get the road at least covered in gravel at last week’s meeting; the issue is coming back up.

The deal concerns opening a stretch of road between Main (Hogback) and Beech Street at Seventh. The road is adjacent to the RV Park owned by Zella Holder. And the whole issue is contentious and goes back several years.

During last week’s discussion of the issue, Mayor Cecilia Taft insulted a fellow Luther resident who works for Oklahoma County and makes equipment available and helps with other issues in town such as signs and parking strikes. Taft said Jasper was “lying” regarding the issue (transcript below).  There is an item on Thursday’s agenda from Birlene Langley to offer Brian Jasper an apology.

Since the Luther Register broadcasts the meeting on Facebook Live, we have transcribed this section of the meeting to share here as it gives an indication of the acrimony on the board:

Birlene Langley: At 8:30 this morning I called Karen Prince. She is at Carolyn Caudill’s office.

Cecilia Taft: Called who?

BL: I asked her what this money strictly goes for. They won’t send us a check. They will do a direct deposit into the general fund. It’s not $26,000 any more. It’s $28,400 because they’ve added to it. I asked her if we could use the money for the generators … she said you can use the money in the general fund for what you do.

So, we were going to have to take out a loan to pay for the generators. We owe a balance. We can take that $28,4000 so we don’t have a loan. LPWA has a Rainy Day Fund …. and we can use $9,000 … and we don’t need a new loan.

Andy McDaniels: Generators are if the town goes without electricity. Water will still pump. Lift stations will take care of the sewage so it doesn’t back up in homes. …. generators extremely important to the town.

BL:  especially with spring coming.

BL: The thing is … I am not comfortable. I don’t think it’s respectful to the new board to put a bunch of debts on them. If we do this, we’ll have to take out a loan. Why should you take a loan out when you have the money right there you can do it with?

CT: This sounds like the same idea I had with the cars but y’all wanted a loan.

Ron Henry: Okay, let me also throw in there. This item says Seventh Street. It’s been approved for almost a year and a half. We have not been to fund that project. Because the council has been throwing away money and we need to be saving money.

BL: I had a meeting (and Jason Miller did too) with Willa Johnson (Oklahoma County Commissioner) and her assistant Brian Jasper and their big boss in Oklahoma City. They came out here and we sat in a meeting. I asked them about opening up Seventh Street and they flat said NO. That’s not gonna happen. That there was more things that needed to be done than Seventh Street. And said don’t ask again.

CT: Okay let me make a comment. When I called and talked to Brian Jasper about five or six months ago. And I talked to Zella. The thing that Brian is saying so evidently he is lying on one end. 

BL: Brian doesn’t lie.

CT: Everybody tell one. But anyway what he told me was that after I took back over mayor I called him about Seventh Street. He said the reason there were not going to do anything with Seventh Street was because of pending lawsuit that’s still going on with the school. So that is what he said. He didn’t say nothing about any other thing but that’s what he told us. And I asked him what did the town have to do with lawsuit thats going on with the school because that’s two different things. He said as long as the lawsuit with the school is pending, they would not repair the road for us.

BL: He told me that also.

CT: And that uh, we would have to do the road ourselves.

AM: … What we could possibly do. … Why can we not with the equipment we have, put in a tinhorn … and gravel that road until the lawsuit is figured out one way or another. It saves the Town a lot of money. and provides an ingress and egress, a second ingress and egress into that part of town.

RH: We could easily go to Woods Paving and some other company to give us an estimate for a tinhorn and gravel. We don’t have to have asphalt like Willa Johnson wants. We need to be able to get in and out of that street because it has been approved for a year and a half.

CT: I think part of it needs to be used to open Seventh Street. That’s my motion. That’s what I’m saying. 

AM: There’s one entrance and exit into this part of our town. There are people in Edmond that pay millions of dollars to have that in their neighborhoods. But be that as it may, it’s not good because if there’s a problem and another ice storm something falls across the road, and you can’t get an ambulance in there to help people. If it was approved over a year ago, why are we talking about it tonight? 

CT: Because it never gets done.

RH: The town has spent too much money. We’re always in the hole.

AM: Ronny, we are not in the hole. Quit saying that. 

CT: The thing of it is, every time we discuss Seventh Street, it comes up that something else is more urgent. Or needed. Okay, Seventh Street is needed also. We got the money to be deposited in the general fund that can be used to get the tinhorn and gravel and whatever. …. Maintenance has the equipment to get it done …. 

That’s all I’m saying. It might take all the $28,000 or less,  but Whatever out of that that’s coming, The town needs to open Seventh Street. 

CT: All the other streets all over Luther are open. Seventh Street needs to be open. 

CT: My motion is to use part of that money once it is funded to open up Seventh Street.

AM: If you’ll make that motion …

CT: I just made it.

AM: If you’ll make it to say tinhorn.

CT: Whatever it takes to get it open. I don’t care if it takes TWO tinhorns. Get it functioning and open. 

AM: I’ll second that. 

(Votes)
BL: abstain

CL: substain

Andy: yes

Ronny: yes

Cecilia: yes

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It’s not the first time that Mayor Taft has been called out on an action in regard to her official role as Mayor. Former Mayor Lea Ann Jackson asked for her resignation after Taft telephoned Jackson’s employer. Regarding the Seventh Street issue; it will be back on the agenda for the Special Meeting, an item from Andy McDaniels who voted for graveling the street just last week.

And that old lawsuit filed against Luther Public Schools by Holder; it’s still at Oklahoma County District Court. The suit that was filed in 2013 alleged the construction of the new high school caused flooding on Holder’s property, adjacent to the Seventh Street dispute,  has a new court date of July 12, 2017. 

Incidentally, the $28,400 issue deals with the town not complying with the law to have its Treasurer bonded. We first reported this issue in January. The board is expected to take up the issue at the Thursday Special Meeting.

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