The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 10, 2013

Collective bargaining for city employees among Tuesday ballot questions

Staff reports
Enid News & Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Garfield County voters will head to the polls Tuesday to decide a number of issues, depending on where they live.

Polls will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in Enid and Garber for municipal elections and in the Kremlin-Hillsdale and Waukomis school districts for bond issue elections.

In Enid, voters will decide an amendment to the city charter to provide for collective bargaining for municipal employees.

If a majority of voters approve, city of Enid employees will be able to join American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and negotiate as a unit. City workers will not have the ability to strike or slowdown. If the city and AFSCME can’t agree to terms, contract negotiations will go into mediation or arbitration.

City employees previously had the right to bargain collectively. A law passed in 2004 required cities with more than 35,000 residents to collectively bargain with their employees. That changed in 2011 when Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation repealing the requirement for cities.

The other elections in the county Tuesday are:

• Voters in Garber will decide whether to approve the renewal of a 25-year franchise agreement with OG&E Electric Services. Under terms of the agreement, 3 percent of OG&E’s monthly gross revenue goes into an account for the town. Little estimated that adds up to $20,000 per year for the franchise and about a $3,000 for the services provided to the town-owned facilities in Garber.

• Kremlin-Hillsdale Public School patrons will decide an $8.8 million bond issue to fund construction of a new junior high and high school with storm shelter.

Dusty Bittle, school board president, said the building would be constructed on land the district already owns just east of where the high school now stands. The school would have 16 classrooms, an ag shop, administrative offices and a practice gym/auditorium.

Superintendent Jim Patton said the original high school building was constructed in the late 1920s and the plumbing and electrical systems — not to mention the flat roof — have needed a great deal of expensive work.

• Waukomis schools are asking for approval of two propositions. Proposition 1 seeks $2.49 million for construction of a community storm shelter and physical education facility.

The second proposition asks for $170,000 to buy two 71-passenger route buses.

Superintendent Dale Bledsoe said the storm shelter is as much for community safety as it is for student and staff safety.

“What we want to build is a community storm shelter,” Bledsoe said. “It can be used by the community 24/7. We’re also going to have a PE facility inside.”

Bledsoe said the facility will be an approximate 10,000-square-foot structure enclosed in a concrete dome.

The buses the school district hopes to replace are a 1999 bus with 129,000 miles on it and a 2004 bus that has logged 89,000 miles.