Home > City Council, News > City of Guthrie and former councilwoman begin trial

City of Guthrie and former councilwoman begin trial

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After four plus years since being filed, the trial between a former councilwoman and City of Guthrie started Tuesday morning inside the Logan County Courthouse.

CMOMFormer councilwoman Patty Hazlewood, along with Karen Schandorf, listed as the defendants, filed an initiative petition with the City on Sept. 7, 2008 with 533 signatures. The petition proposed the city should not be allowed to raise water and sewer rates, but instead be submitted to the legal voters of the city for their approval or rejection at the next regular general election, or at a special election.

The proposed petition was denied by the City on Dec. 5, 2008. The lawsuit was filed in court a month later.

Inside the courtroom, City Manager, Sereniah Breland, along with council members Trey Ayers, Mary Coffin and Gaylord Z. Thomas, took the stand and said the proposed petition could potentially be dangerous for the city and citizens.

Thomas stated, it would be a “severe train wreck” if a rate increase was voted against when the City saw increased fees themselves.

Ayers said, “it could cripple our community” while Breland testified, “it could destroy the city”.

Guthrie City HallBreland testified that if the City was unable to cover any future costs through utility rates they would have to recover those from the general fund. The general fund, supported by sales tax dollars, aids police, fire, parks and other primary cares for the city.

The only city in the state that allows a vote for rate increases is Norman.

“We felt like the only way we could have the city hear us was doing a petition like the citizens of Norman did. We researched and got enough information that we could do a petition in the City of Guthrie based on what the citizens of Norman did to take back the right to vote.”

With the current ongoing litigation, the court has put a hold on any rate increases.

Hazlewood had become displeased with the implemented CMOM fee, along with a fee to pay for the new $15 million water treatment plant and the handling of the loan with Excel Jet for $375,000.

The CMOM fee is an additional charge on residents’ utility bill to repair and replace infrastructure. The Department of Environmental Quality required the City to make repairs to the infrastructure or be dealt daily fines between $70 and $280 until those repairs were completed.

“I’m talking about these million dollar projects like the water and sewer treatment center that they (people) could never vote on. We would have never gone over budget and built something that we couldn’t afford if the citizens had been able to vote,” Hazlewood said.

Recorded conversation denied by judge

According to testimony, Ayers had recorded conversations he had with Hazlewood following a workshop claiming she wished she could drop the lawsuit and agreed that it will wreck the City of Guthrie.

“I would say anything to get you guys off my back,” Hazlewood said. “They badgered me for four years. The first thing they would say to me when I came into a room is when are you going to take your name off the ballot.”

Each council person who testified denied they ever asked her to remove her name off the ballot.

“I couldn’t take my name off of it because I had to stand for what I believed in,” Hazlewood said. “It has been nothing but a nightmare for me.”

The court did not allow the recorded conversation to be played.

Both parties are expected to be back in the courtroom on Wednesday.

Categories: City Council, News
  1. I will pray
    July 30, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    It looks like the city of Guthrie is on the downhill run already. It’s citizens should have a right to vote on their increases. If their was better city management it might make a difference, but doubtful.

  1. July 31, 2013 at 10:24 pm
  2. October 3, 2013 at 2:04 pm
  3. April 13, 2015 at 12:51 pm
  4. August 22, 2016 at 11:03 am

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