November 6, 2013

Council approves oil leases

James Bright, Managing Editor,
The Express-Star


The Chickasha City Council could look a little different come next year. 

In a unanimous vote, the council approved the municipal election date of March 4, 2014. 

Incumbents Vice Mayor J.E. Epperson, and council members Blake Elliot, Ryan Posey and Howard Carpenter are all up for reelection. Mayor Hank Ross's seat is also up for grabs. Should he run, Ross would  seek his third term. 

"I want to talk about it with my family and other people, but I am about 90 percent sure I am going to run," he said. "I have some unfinished business I want to accomplish."

A new revenue stream was also created during Monday night's meeting. The council voted to grant Turner Oil and Gas Properties an exploratory lease on eight acres of land around Chickasha Lake. The company will pay $750 an acre for a three year lease, at 3/16 royalty rate. Turner leased 4,000 acres for exploratory purposes in May of this year. 

Fairburn said revenue gained from these sales, which was estimated to bring in just over $3 million,  will likely be used to improve Chickasha's infrastructure. 

The council approved the lease 6-2 with council member Mike Sutterfield and Carpenter dissenting. Carpenter expressed concerns over the deal being the same as the one made in May. 

Continental Resources was also approved for a drilling permit at Chickasha Lake during the meeting. 

Citizen Romelda Barboza spoke on her concerns about handicapped people in electric wheelchairs moving about in the dark during the meeting. 

"I almost ran one of them over the other night," she said. 

Barboza implored the council to pass an ordinance mandating reflective material be placed on the wheelchairs.

City Manager Stuart Fairburn said it would be easier to find a group to take the task of putting reflective gear on motorized wheel chairs rather than the city passing legislation. 

"Some of them do not have the resources to do this and the more visibility we get for them the better," he said. 

Carpenter echoed Barboza's concerns. 

"We already lost one citizen to this a few years ago," he said. "I would like to see this put on the front burner." 

Carpenter also raised concerns over the city soliciting proposals for a health insurance program consultant. 

"Why do we need to spend money on hiring a consultant," he asked. 

Fairburn said the city needs to get in sync with Federal health care changes, and this will give the city better insight into the system and what changes need to be made. 

There will be no meeting next Monday and city offices will be closed to observe Veteran's Day.