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The Shawnee News-Star
  • Formal mediation: Sales tax issue decided; law firm defined despite disagreement

  • City commissioners at Tuesday’s Shawnee City Commission meeting voted to utilize mediation for the sales tax issue and expand the role of an outside law firm.
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  • City commissioners at Tuesday’s Shawnee City Commission meeting voted to utilize mediation for the sales tax issue and expand the role of an outside law firm.
    The commission considered discussion regarding matters relating to sales tax enforcement action. The conclusion to use mediation came to a vote after Executive Session.
    “I move we authorize the city manager and the city attorney to request formal mediation with other parties on the issues,” Commissioner Keith Hall said.
    The decision passed without opposition.
    An Albuquerque, New Mexico law firm, hired by Shawnee City Commission to assist with reaching an agreement with tribal leaders on the sales tax issue, will absorb duties as Agents of the Oklahoma Tax Commission and be listed as Attorneys of Record.
    The item, which approved an agreement with the Oklahoma Tax Commission for the City of Shawnee to engage in compliance activities, carried, but garnered opposing votes from Commissioners Pam Stephens and Linda Agee.
    Before the vote, Agee asked that the item, listed under approval of Consent Agenda, be pulled for discussion. Stephens questioned why city attorney Mary Ann Karns could not remain the lone Attorney of Record while the firm help only with work delegated to them. Karns said the firm has expertise working with the Tax Commission.
    Stephens inquired about the cost per hour for the firm’s services. Karns did not have the information readily available from memory, but said there were three different lawyers and levels, and costs were not significantly higher than local attorney services.
    Challenging the benefits of an outside law firm, Carl Packwood took the podium for citizen participation.
    “I just think that there’s a lot of things that we can spend money on in Shawnee and not spend it all on attorney fees,” Packwood said. “I’m speaking as a citizen of Shawnee. I’ve lived here 49-plus years; my whole life. A lot of good things have happened in 49-plus years and we’ve had a few, ugly black eyes.”
    Packwood asked the commission to consider their decision.
    “You should really look deep into your soul and into your heart and figure out exactly if this is going to be best for the City of Shawnee,” Packwood said.

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