Bricktown Landing officially is open after months of negotiations between Oklahoma City and the Union Pacific Railroad. Bricktown Landing’s canal and walking and biking paths run beneath a UP railroad bridge, linking the central business district and Bricktown Canal with the Boathouse District and Oklahoma River trails. The city council on Tuesday will consider paying the railroad $6,400 as part of the settlement. No word on how much the liability insurance required by the railroad is costing taxpayers.
Worth considering: A railroad spokesman said Oct. 1 that “the city is motivated and we’re motivated to work together.” It took another nine months to get the deal done.
Memberships add up
When Mayor Mick Cornett becomes president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in 2016, it will raise Oklahoma City’s profile on the national stage. Cities pay dues to national and state organizations that represent their interests. For 2014, Oklahoma City paid $26,216 to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, $80,000 to the Oklahoma Municipal League, and $23,631 to the National League of Cities. City Manager Jim Couch is Oklahoma Municipal League board president.
What newest city leaders earn
City Manager Jim Couch recently selected new leaders for Oklahoma City’s planning and parks departments. Here’s a look at what they earn.
• Aubrey Hammontree will make $138,016 annually as planning director. She gets a $3,000 annual car allowance and a little more than three weeks’ vacation, based on her nearly 15 years of service with the city.
• Douglas Kupper will make $145,011 annually as parks director. He gets a $3,000 annual car allowance and, as a new employee, will qualify for six days’ vacation after six months. After that, he’ll accrue vacation at the rate of a little more than two weeks per year. Kupper joined the city from Wichita, Kan., where he was parks director.
Hammontree and Kupper contribute 6 percent of their pay to their pension; the city contributes 7.15 percent. They also earn 130 hours of sick leave annually. Both figures are standard for city employees. The city’s authorized workforce is 4,672 employees under the fiscal 2015 budget that takes effect Tuesday.
Oklahoma City finds a lot to like about the 2014 Legislature — but mostly due to bills that failed to pass. A new report lists four positives for every negative among issues of concern to the city. Some negatives are consequential, though, including Republican House Speaker Jeff Hickman’s refusal to allow a vote on funding for the stalled American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Widely seen as a defeat for the city, passage of a measure to block the vacant and abandoned building registry, centerpiece of the city’s blight-fighting efforts, gets a grade of “mixed.” Of the first 10 positives on the list, nine are for bills that died.