The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

June 30, 2014

Key vote Tuesday night on negotiations with ONG

ENID, Okla. — In a move that’s part negotiating tactic and part safety net, the city of Enid will vote Tuesday night to consider buying back gas rights from Oklahoma Natural Gas.

The city and ONG are nearing the deadline for renewal of a 25-year franchise agreement that allows the company to distribute and sell gas here, but the two sides disagree on terms.

In the 6 p.m. meeting, City Attorney Andrea Chism will ask Enid City Commission to approve a resolution declaring its intent to buy back the franchise. If approved, it gives the mayor the ability to begin that process.

City officials were offended at a clause in ONG’s proposed contract that would significantly increase the cost of ending the next agreement early. The commissioners also asked their attorney to negotiate for a higher fee that ONG would pay in exchange for the right to operate here.

City Manager Eric Benson said the resolution will allow negotiators to keep working, and that it’s too early to predict the outcome.

“There are certain date protocols we have to observe. If we did nothing, then the protocols would engage and the decision would no longer be ours,” he said when reached Monday. “This maintains the opportunity to continue the dialogue and, thus, the negotiations. Since we can’t agree to the final elements, we have to continue the negotiation.”

As for the agreement, “I think we’re closer than we have been,” Benson said.

In a meeting earlier this month, city commissioners rejected ONG’s proposed contract, in a bid to give their chief negotiator, Chism, the power to drive a harder bargain.

Along with wanting to increase the 4 percent charge on gas sales that goes back to the city, commissioners were upset over a last-minute addition to the contract.

The city of Enid allows ONG rights of way and permission to sell natural gas to its residents for a fee. If city officials were to later change their mind and provide that service themselves, similar to how they operate the water utility, the contract allows the city to “buy out” ONG. Chism said the company came to the city with a buyout penalty that effectively would quadruple the cost of terminating the franchise. This, she said, was a surprise.

“The language they’re proposing is so onerous, it’s obscene,” Ward 3 Commissioner Ben Ezzell said in a public meeting earlier this month. “We have no way to predict what it’s going to be in 25 years, and I’m not going to hamstring (a future) commission.”

The practical effect of a delayed deal is minimal in the short term. ONG will continue to provide gas service, and instead of the franchise coming to a citywide vote in October, it likely will be voted on later.

In the June 3 meeting where commissioners denied the contract, Mayor Bill Shewey parted with his fellow commissioners.

The commission also will vote to settle a legal claim with a former firefighter.

Nancy Morgan was hurt in a training exercise in 2011. According to the city, she said she suffered injuries to her head, neck, shoulders, back, hip, knees and jaw and also “psychological overlay.”

The city admitted to neck, back, shoulder and knee injuries, but denied the others.

“In an effort to reduce the city’s exposure and risk, the parties met in mediation. The parties agreed, subject to final approval of the City Commission, to settle all claims, fully and finally for the amount of $205,000, of which $35,000 has already been paid,” Tuesday’s agenda states.

If the commission approves the settlement, $170,000 will be levied to the tax rolls.

The city usually meets in regular session at 6:30 p.m., but temporarily moved the time up to 6 p.m. The regular study session begins at 5 p.m. and includes discussion on water strategy. The meetings will be in the City Administration Building, 401 W. Garriott.

1
Text Only
Local and State News
  • OBI: Summer important for blood donations

    Oklahoma Blood Institute especially encourages people with O-negative blood type to give, since it can be given to anyone who needs blood, according to a press release.

    July 25, 2014

  • pursuit.tiff Motorcycle pursuit ends in arrest

    The motorcycle led officers south on Van Buren to Sunridge Estates before making a U-turn and traveling northbound on Van Buren, where the motorcycle reached speeds in excess of 100 mph, police said

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Food_pantry_2_BH.jpg Oklahoma food pantries scrambling to meet demand

    While Loaves & Fishes helps an average of 700 families each month, last July and August the bank averaged 880, said Carrie Sanders, executive director of Loaves & Fishes in Enid.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oklahoma Execution_Hass.jpg States' use of execution drugs varies widely

    Oklahoma has authorized five different lethal injection protocols: a three-drug method beginning with sodium thiopental, pentobarbital, or midazolam, a two-drug procedure using midazolam and hydromorphone, or a single, lethal dose of pentobarbital.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo 4 Stories

  • Frank Lucas.jpg Congressman Lucas earns agriculture group's honor

    Lucas represents Oklahoma's 3rd Congressional district that includes all or portions of 32 counties , including Garfield County, in northern and western Oklahoma and serves as chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Capital-Cities.jpg Tulsa music and arts festival starts Friday

    The two-day music and arts event that starts Friday is named after the popular downtown Tulsa landmark, the Center of the Universe, located on the Boston Avenue pedestrian bridge.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • image6.jpg Weather forecast: Good news and bad

    Temperatures are forecast straight from the oven today and Saturday, but changes are coming ...

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Silver Alert issued out of El Reno

    Ray Barger, 82, has not been seen since 7 p.m. Tuesday, according to El Reno Police Department.
     

    July 25, 2014

  • Lynette Rae Sampson.jpg Say what?: Woman arrested after calling EPD to complain her meth was ‘laced’

    A 54-year-old Enid woman is facing felony drug charges after allegedly calling police earlier in the week and telling them she thought her methamphetamine was laced with something. Woman to officer: "I'm glad you came."

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Christopher Sparks.jpg 1st-degree murder suspect will return to county to face charge

    Christopher Ryan Sparks was charged July 15 with capital murder, which is punishable by life in prison, life without parole or death. He is accused of killing his live-in girlfriend, Chassidy Michelle Hancock, sometime July 11 in their apartment in Garber.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

News Photos


Enid News & Eagle photos taken throughout February 2014. Enjoy full-access all ENE photos at http://enidnews.smugmug.com