City to decide whether to fund arts, small business relief program

Vicky O. Misa
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee City Hall.

Shawnee City Commissioners are meeting Monday.

After the last set gathering was cancelled, most of the original agenda was carried forward, along with the addition of a few new items.

The board may consider whether to participate in another round of funding Shawnee Forward's small business relief program. The board gave $50,000 in Cares Act funds to the program in December, as did Pottawatomie County Commissioners, and the City of Tecumseh gave $5,000.

In another agenda item, City Treasurer and Finance Director Ashley Neel is requesting an ordinance to amend the definition of a permanent resident as it affects occupancy surcharges.

“Regarding the exemption for long-term occupants, under current code, the surcharge is not assessed where an occupant rents the room for a period in excess of 30 days,” Neel's agenda memo reads. “Beginning with the 2014 Hotel/Motel Tax Consulting Project, Crawford & Associates has repeatedly advised the city to clarify how this exemption works in operation.”

Under the proposed amendments, the thirty days is counted one of two ways, number of days stayed, or number of days booked.

• If an individual has resided in a room for at least 30 days without interruption, they are exempt from the occupancy surcharge and are entitled to the exemption retroactively to the first day of residency.

• If an individual has booked a room for at least 30 days, they are also exempt from the occupancy surcharge.

“A stay is defined as continuous,” she said. “Any break disqualifies the individual from being considered a permanent resident.”

She also said there has been some confusion regarding the calculation of late charges on past due payments.

“At this moment, the ordinance states payments are due on the first of the month following collection, but will not be counted as late until after the 20th of that month,” she said. “It then goes on to state that the penalty is 10 percent unless the payment is paid more than 30 days after the due date. If paid more than 30 days after the due date, the penalty switches to 25 percent.”

The language has caused more than one hotel operator to pay the incorrect amount, assuming it meant 30 days from the 20th, not the first, she said.

“The amendment clarifies when the 10 percent and 25 percent penalties apply,” Neel said. “These changes will not increase the penalties assessed or shorten the timeframe but only reflect current operations.”

In other business, City Commissioners may take action on a few requests:

• on-street parking on the proposed Red Bird Road;

• public improvements for the proposed Cedar Ridge Addition; and

• approval of a preliminary plat for Cedar Ridge Addition, a 13.49-acre tract approximately 1,100 feet east of Harrison Avenue on the north side of East 39th Street

In a housekeeping item, the board will consider approval of an amendment to the Future Land Use Map of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan to reallocate 15 acres of low-density residential to high-density residential.

Also, a monthly sales tax and budget report will be given, as well as a couple budget amendments: adjusting the budgets of Shawnee Fire Department, building maintenance and police technology to account for changing needs. In an added agenda item, a budget amendment will be considered regarding the Hotel/Motel Surcharge Fund, providing for remodeling costs.

Commissioners plan to consider an agreement with South Central Industries, Inc. for trash removal services at 23 municipal park locations, and janitorial services at three municipal park locations.

An addition to the agenda is consideration of a contract with CEC Corp. for design services regarding the 45th Street transportation project.

Also, the board may consider an ordinance establishing a commission and budget dedicated to arts in public spaces.

“As emphasized in Shawnee’s 2040 Comprehensive Plan, the necessity for public art in our community dovetail with the enhancement of our community image, civic health, equity and economic development,” City Planner Rebecca Blaine said. “Like City of Oklahoma City, this proposal includes a 1 percent for The Arts Ordinance which will designate 1 percent of total construction costs to public art.”

Another ordinance amendment relating to city utilities proposes regulation of the use of fats, oil and grease interceptors and water, oil, sand or grit separators.

The board also will acknowledge Mayor Ed Bolt's declaration of a state of emergency for the city after last week's winter storms.

The only items set on the Airport Authority and Municipal Authority agendas are to approve the minutes from the last meeting.

Shawnee City Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in the Bertha Ann Young City Commission Chambers at City Hall, at 16 W. 9th St.

For story ideas, questions or concerns, reporter Vicky O. Misa can be reached at vicky.misa@news-star.com.