Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Officials Debate Planning Department Need

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

City Officials Debate Planning Department Need

Article excerpt

By Betty Jane Harvey

Journal Record Staff Reporter

A prospective planning department for the City of Oklahoma City was presented to members of the finance committee of the Oklahoma City Council Tuesday.

A meeting of the finance committee was held after the Oklahoma City Council meeting. Finance committee members are members of the city council.

Presentation of a city planning department was made during a discussion of the City of Oklahoma City budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. Discussion of the Neighborhood Initiative was also held.

Each week following city council meetings, the finance committee is scheduled to hear presentations of two items or departments covered in the budget. The proposed budget has been released.

The total budget _ including operating costs, capital and debt service funds and various restricted funds and amounts reappropriated from prior years _ is $374.6 million, an increase of 8.5 percent. The proposed operating budget totals $301.2 million, an increase of 1.5 percent or $4.4 million over the present year's budget.

A total of 4,514 full-time permanent city positions would be allowed for the year. This is a net increase of 69 from the amended budget for the year that ends June 30.

Oklahoma City Manager Donald D. Bown appointed a committee, led by Jim Twombly, assistant to the city manager, to look at establishing a planning department within the city. A planning department might establish a check-andbalance type area that would all be within one building and one department, Bown said.

"The proposed planning department will increase the organizational importance placed on the planning function, unite the long- and short-range planning functions in the same department with zoning and subdivision approval and enforcement, and tie together the planning function and the administration of federal grants for housing and development," Bown said in a memo to Mayor Ronald J. Norick and city council members.

It would also contribute to the Neighborhood Initiative and Urban Land Institute projects, he said.

Proposed expenditures for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would be $11.7 million.

Members of the committee talked to officials of planning departments already under way in Kansas City; Wichita, Kan.; Little Rock, Ark.; Austin; Fort Worth; and Birmingham, Ala. They also talked with two national associations.

Common cores in each department were found. They included plan preparation; project planning, such as Bricktown and The Paseo; community development planning; land-use development and regulations; policy analysis; and research and information activity that is a repository available to developers, builders and real estate professionals.

The committee put together an organization that under a planning director would embody grants management, urban planning, subdivision and zoning, and planning resources. …

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