Alva Review-Courier -

Alva named most affordable city in Oklahoma


January 27, 2019

Alva Mayor Kelly Parker told the city council Tuesday that the City of Alva was ranked the No. 7 best city to live in for the state of Oklahoma. The website ranked Oklahoma cities in several categories and used those to determine the order for best cities.

He said Alva was No. 7 in nights stayed, third safest city in the state in terms of violent crime, second lowest in unemployment and the No. 1 most affordable city. Parker said the low unemployment rate was a “double-edged sword” for Alva. “It’s good our people are working, but sometimes it’s hard to find help if you are a business owner.” He said the most affordable ranking was based on the cost for a home compared to average income.

Business Manager Joe Don Dunham also had some good news. At $369,871 the Alva sales and use tax for December was up $23,932 from November 2018 and up $35,762 from December 2017. The December tax comes from October sales.

Dunham said Alva received $400,459 in January sales and use tax, the largest collection since March 2016.

Scholarship Bill

Northwestern Foundation Director Skeeter Bird presented the 2018 fall semester Alva Incentive Scholarship bill to the council totaling $266,037. Bird said, “Those are investments for our students.”

Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of Northwestern Oklahoma State University, thanked the council and the city for continuing to support the university through the one-half percent sales tax.

Regarding the sales tax, Cunningham said she was happy to hear of the increased revenue. “We try to do as much as we can by having as many events as we can,” she said. Events drawing people to Alva can help increase purchases resulting in sales tax.

She said of the Alva scholarships, “It’s so critical that that continue as the state’s appropriations have gone down and tuition and fees have gone up.” Cunningham said the university invoice is about the same as last year as they try to be conservative in their use of the tax-supported scholarships. The freshman class size increased in the fall although overall enrollment was “down just a little bit, much less than our counterparts across the state.”

Cunningham said they were really excited about the fall-to-spring student retention. “It looks to be one of the highest we’ve had.” She said it will be about 82 percent.

She said the Spring Showcase, geared toward transfer students and potential freshmen, is coming up. Cunningham mentioned the Fine Arts Building did not have Christmas lights this year as it is getting some work done. The preparation work is for the replacement of all windows. She hopes that will happen in the spring although it may take a little longer. She said Fine Arts is the oldest building on campus, built in 1907, and had the same architect as the state capitol.

Although the presentation is made to the city council, payment of the scholarship invoice was approved by the Alva Economic Development Authority that evening.

Permits Received

All members of the city council were present Tuesday. They met at the Alva Recreation Center while City Hall is closed for replacement of the HVAC equipment.

The council acknowledged the receipt of two DEQ permits. One is for the construction of 7,100 linear feet of PVC potable water line south of Alva replacing a problem area. The other is for construction of a gas chlorine feed system, chlorination building and flow meter for the water system. The old chlorination system has become difficult to maintain.

A resolution authorizing participation in the OMAG Recognition Program for this fiscal year was approved. This generally results in a refund from the city’s insurance carrier.

The council approved purchasing officer designations and limits for fiscal year 2019-2020. Dunham said these were the same as last year.

REAP Grant

Alva received a REAP grant for $55,497.58 for installation of a new water line along U.S. Highway 281 North between Maple and Barnes. Dunham said the project has been on the city’s priority list since 2010. The city applied for a $40,000 grant. The higher amount awarded will further offset the cost of the project estimated at $129,954.

Consultant Contract

There were a few questions about the proposed professional agreement with Crafton, Tull & Associates, Inc. for planning services at an estimated cost of $42,000. Parker said that was not a “set in stone” number. The cost will be based on the number of hours actually worked.

Mary Hamilton wanted to know if this was the same firm used by Mr. Schnebel. She was referring to a Young Street building project that caused controversy at a recent Planning Commission meeting. Dunham said it was but this contract has nothing to do with the Schnebel project. Hamilton also wanted to know if the city has used Crafton Tull & Associates before. Dunham said no but “they are a very reputable firm.”

Mayor Parker noted this was the company that came to the November Planning Commission meeting to offer advice on the strategic land use planning. There was some discussion on the hourly cost of advice by the firm. “These types of professionals are expensive,” said Parker. However he said it was going to be important that the planning commission have access to this advice as they work on the strategic land use update.

Dunham said he would expect a representative of the firm to be in Alva for the February kick off meeting of the Land Use Task Force as well as some of the public meetings. Hamilton made a motion to approve the contract up to $42,000, seconded by Randy Stelling. The motion passed unanimously.

The council also approved the appointment of Kelly Schrock and Jeff Mapes to the task force. They were nominated by the Planning Commission.

Other Business

Council members approved the reappointment of Chad Fisher and Shane Hansen to the Alva Recreation Complex Board for a term ending October 2021.

An executive session was held on the annual evaluation of City Business Manager Joe Don Dunham. His two-year contract, signed in February 2018, calls for a three-percent raise the second year provided he receives a favorable evaluation.

The council approved paying claims of $86,536.12 and payroll expenses of $389,675.21.

The Alva Utility Authority met after the council adjourned. Consisting of the same members as the council, the trustees approved paying claims of $44,095.16 and payroll expenses of $101,096.58.

The Alva Economic Development Authority meeting followed. They approved paying claims of $33,512.39 and payroll expenses of $23,774.66. They also approved the NWOSU Foundation’s invoice for fall scholarships.


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