Home > City Council, News > Day two of the City of Guthrie trial; continued

Day two of the City of Guthrie trial; continued

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After day two of the trial between former Councilwoman Patty Hazlewood and the City of Guthrie, there will need to be at least a third day, but it is unknown when that date will be announced.

Guthrie City HallAt the conclusion of Wednesday’s hearings, Hazlewood’s attorney, Chris Harper, requested additional time to speak with an expert witness in attorney Stan Ward, who has direct knowledge of a similar initiative petition in Norman. Harper says in court papers, Ward needs time to review the case and is expected to give his disposition to both parties in the coming days.

It is unknown when the trial will start back up.

The lawsuit brought on by the petitioners, Hazlewood and Karen Schandorf, propose 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.

Related story: City of Guthrie and former councilwoman begin trial

Day two saw the City’s engineer, financial advisory, city clerk and mayor take the stand. In addition, Hazlewood and the finance director for the City of Norman were also called.

Bill Myers, who has represented the City for 14 years as the engineer, testified that in his 4o-plus cities that his company represents none of those municipalities are represented by the vote of the people. Myers further said he believes it would be “catastrophic” if it did because is not sure how the City would be able to pay the costs.

With the current ongoing litigation, that was filed on Jan. 5, 2009, the court has put a hold on any rate increases by the City.

CourthouseJohn Wolf with Municipal Finance Services, a certified public accountant for the City since 2002, said if expenses were to go up and the City was  unable to pay their note they could default on their debt with the Oklahoma Water Resource Board.

Wolf testified the town of Chickasha, who had a vote of the people charter in place, had it repelled and has since had success with increased rates after not being able to address major infrastructure issues.

Both Wolf and Myers both agreed under cross-examination, that if the people did vote to approve for an increase it would not damage the City with utility rates.

Perhaps, the key witness for the defendants on day two came from Anthony Fransico, who has been the finance director for Norman since 1996.

According to Fransico, who was listed as a plaintiff witness but called by City Attorney Randal Shadid, said Norman is the only city in the state that allows a vote for rate increases and plans to have a charter meeting in place to possibly have it removed because he believes it is a “bad business practice.”

Fransico went on to say that he has been in five states and does not know of any other city that works under the voting charter for utility rates.

He went on to testify Norman has been delayed since 2001 on sewer projects. In addition, Norman voters failed to pass two water and one sewer rate increase. However, Norman citizens have voted for two water rate increases.

Categories: City Council, News

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