By Joy Hampton
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — The Moore City Council approved an $89.7 million budget with no fund balance used and no public comments, but most of the discussion at Monday night’s city council meeting focused on tornado response and recovery.
“When we have a tornado in Moore, everyone becomes a first responder,” Mayor Glenn Lewis said.
Council members were appreciative of residents, first responders, city staff, FEMA crews, volunteers and churches. The local response at Moore was particularly strong, council members said.
“We’re incredibly grateful to FEMA, but we didn’t wait for them to came take care of us,” council member Mark Hamm said. “We’re taking care of ourselves. We’re independent.”
Despite unanimous and uncontested approval of the city budget for FY 2013, which begins July 1, City Manger Stephen Eddy acknowledged that changes are inevitable because of the tornado.
“There will be significant changes to the budget,” Eddy said. “We will be watching our revenue stream.”
The May 20 tornado hit a large portion of Moore’s economic core, but affected businesses are reopening daily. Still, those closures are likely to impact sales tax revenue.
A $2.6 million general obligation bond project for the reconstruction of Broadway Avenue form Northeast Fifth Street to Northeast 18th Street was awarded to Silver Star Construction. Lewis asked if the project would be too much for Silver Star, the Moore-based company that also is doing the city’s tornado debris removal.
Eddy said the road improvement work order will be postponed until truck traffic associated with the tornado is out of town and most of the debris removal has been completed.
City council members also awarded a bid for disaster debris monitoring services to Executive Recovery Group. While competitive bidding was waived because of the disaster emergency, the city took six proposals by phone.
“We looked at all six of the proposals,” Eddy said. “Any of those six would do a good job of this. ”
Executive Recovery Group will watch what debris is loaded at sites and will make sure it’s eligible debris. The monitoring will be electronically tracked, avoiding the mounds of paperwork often associated with disasters.
“We’ve done this the last several storms,” Eddy said.
The difference is the new electronic technology will make the process much easier and is recommended by FEMA. Eddy said the cost of the monitoring is a FEMA-eligible reimbursement.
Two residents spoke to city council members about needing variance from city ordinances to build appropriate storm shelters in their yards. Ralph Marshall said he has lived in Moore for 25 years.
He needs part of his shelter to be in the front yard so his wife, who has diabetes and can’t walk, won’t have to make her way through a locked gate to a backyard shelter.
City leaders said aesthetic concerns voiced by residents about front-yard shelters had prompted the city code, but residents can appeal to the Board of Adjustment to get a variance.
“If there’s a medical reason, I wouldn’t want to deny anyone a storm shelter,” Lewis said.
While discussion of requiring shelters at least on new construction for apartments, senior housing and assisted living centers is ongoing, most city council members indicated that they would be uncomfortable with requiring shelters in all new homes.