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City waiting on funds to pay loan on City Hall renovations

Proposals to extend the payment due time on funding for Lawton City Hall renovations and to renew a contract with longtime LATS manager McDonald Transit Associates will top the agenda when the City Council meets today.
The meeting, which includes a session of the City Transit Trust, will begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Lawton City Hall, Southwest 9th Street and C Avenue. 
An hour before the council meeting, the Lawton Industrial Development Authority (LIDA) is slated to act on a staff recommendation to set a July 9 due date on a $2.5 million "bridge loan" held by Liberty National Bank, then send the recommendation to council.
The city, via LIDA, received the bridge loan in 2010 to provide the funding necessary to complete the renovations at Lawton City Hall that allowed most of the offices remaining in Wayne Gilley City Hall to move to the new location. The principal of the note is due in interest payments of $250,000 each September through 2021, with interest payable at the initial rate of 4.25 percent, adjusted every two years with the new adjusted rates equal to the Wall Street Prime rate plus 1 percent.
Council members have said that any revenue from the sale of 50 acres of city-owned property at Northwest 67th Street and Rogers Lane would first be applied to that bridge loan, and the city has been working toward that goal with last year's announcement that Anthony Properties would buy 29 acres for a movie theater complex. While the property is under contract, closing is not expected to occur until June 19. Because the city did not budget a $250,000 installment in this year's budget (administrators anticipated the property would be sold and the loan repaid), Liberty National Bank has agreed to defer the payment of the second installment and accrued interest until July 9, three weeks after the closing date on the Rogers Lane property.
Acting in their capacity as the City Transit Trust, council members will consider a management proposal from McDonald Transit Associates, the third contract for the firm that has been operating Lawton's mass transit system since operations began in April 2002. The new five-year contract, which has a two-year extension, would begin March 1.
Assistant City Manager Jim Russell said while McDonald Transit was the only respondent to the requests for proposals (eight firms were solicited), he was not worried about awarding McDonald the contract since the firm "has done a very good job." Russell noted the proposal includes a budget increase of less than 2 percent; funding to operate LATS comes from the City of Lawton, advertisements and fares generated by the system, and allocations from the Federal Transit Administration.

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