Danker stays Interim City Manager; Council votes not to hire as full-time City Manager
By Kay Thompson
During the regular city council meeting held on Monday, January 14, the council renewed several agreements.
First on the agenda was to renew the agreement with Discovery to allow for a closed set on Sertco Road to film Street Outlaws. City Attorney Jack Cadenhead informed the council that this was the same agreement as previous and that it just had to be renewed yearly.
Vice Mayor Wayne Bacon asked if the $750 stipend they receive from Pilgrim Films was enough to cover expenses. Interim City Manager Dustin Danker stated that the city was not out any expenses at all but they could look into negotiating an increase if the council saw fit. Councilman Anthony Landers said that he was against asking for more money since they have donated to several organizations around Okemah, speaking specially of the donation they made to help with the lighting at the Pecan Bowl.
Mayor Mike Fuller made the motion to approve the agreement and Landers seconded it. The motion passed unanimously.
Also passing unanimously was the renewal of the lease and agreement to provide services with the Okemah Golf Club and also with the Animal Rescue League of Okemah for FIX Okemah.
Bacon had also requested to discuss the progress of constructing the animal shelter. Danker stated that they had $145,000 in the budget, however, all the bids came back way more than that. It was discussed that the council had wanted to budget $200,000 and Danker stated they would make a budget amendment for the next meeting.
They also discussed the idea of piece milling out the project to save money as the previous city manager had suggested. Danker said he was not for that idea since it would “turn the city into a general contractor.” He suggested to go with one company to preform the dirt work, install plumbing and pour the slab and then to entertain the idea of piece milling the project.
The council asked about grants to help pay for the building and Grants Administrator Valerie Williams stated that she had not found any grants for municipalities, only private foundations, but she would keep looking.
Other business the council handled was approving for banners provided by the Okemah Panther Booster Club of student athletes to be hung on the light poles on Broadway, appointing City Clerk Relena Haddox as Okemah’s representative on the Deep Fork Community Action Board and tabling setting the amount of the renewal fees for both the retail marijuana establishment and personal growing facility annual licenses.
The last item of business was the possibility of entering into executive session to discuss the employment of Dustin Danker as City Manager. The council voted to enter into executive session at 6:30 p.m. The council asked Cadenhead to stay behind while everyone else stepped out of the room.
After a period of time, Danker was asked to enter and have a discussion with the council.
At 7:01 p.m. the council entered back into open session. Fuller stated they did not discuss any business other than the position of city manager.
Landers made the motion to hire Dustin Danker as city manager with a annual salary of $68,000 with a contract length to be determined. Councilman Loren Aldridge seconded the motion. Haddox called for the vote.
Voting first was Aldridge, who voted yes. Next was Landers, who also voted yes. Following Landers in the regular voting rotation was Councilman Ronnie Lucas. Lucas hesitated and then stated, “it’s a no for now.” Next was Bacon, who voted no. Lastly was Fuller, who also voted no, therefore, not approving an employment contract with a vote of 2-3.
Danker gave a quick update about items he was working on, including informing the council that no one wants to take the hot and cold water towers down to just the bowl. However, he has one more engineering firm to speak with.
During the city council’s comments, Bacon asked Danker to look into the cost of uniforms for city employees. Lucas asked about the status of selling the solid waste station and Cadenhead said they were waiting on the District Attorney’s opinion about a requirement in the title.
The meeting adjourned after just an hour and eight minutes at 7:08 p.m.