Ordinances brought up to date

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

The Pawhuska City Council voted in a brief special meeting at noon Sept. 12 to recodify the city’s code of ordinances. Council members Rodger Milleson, Mark Buchanan and John Brazee voted 3-0 in favor of the recodification.

Milleson, the vice mayor, presided. City Attorney John Heskett, City Manager Larry Eulert and City Clerk Barbara Smith were also present. Mayor Roger Taylor was out of town on vacation, and Councilman Steve Holcombe was unable to attend due to a last-minute obligation that arose.

In the aftermath of the meeting, Heskett explained the session had been called in response to city officials finding out that they had not timely handled the recodification of city ordinances. The task should have been performed by January, he said. The meeting was called as soon as the problem was discovered, he said.

Heskett also commented after the special meeting that he and other city attorneys had become aware that a group of attorneys seemed to be doing research on the question of recodification and whether various municipalities had performed the task in a timely manner. Heskett made it clear he didn’t want Pawhuska to be a part of anything that might be filed as a result of that research.

“We are just trying to give the appearance and make sure it’s understood that we are up to date,” Heskett said. “We want to make it abundantly clear that everything in the city of Pawhuska is in due order and is properly done.”

Before the Sept. 12 meeting, Brazee and Milleson briefly discussed the agenda item that was about to be before them. Milleson commented that something he had read about the subject of recodification of ordinances seemed complex.

Brazee explained it in these terms — if he received a citation and came before the municipal court, and if he questioned the judge as to whether the city’s ordinances were up to date, and if the judge had to admit they were not up to date, then any fine handed down would have to be reduced in amount.

Heskett told the Journal-Capital that such a reduction would have to be to the level of $50; however, he added that he does not ancitipate any fines already levied by the city will have to be reduced, and refunds issued. He said defendants had a 10-day period in which to file any such appeal.

“The ordinances are still valid and enforceable,” Heskett said.

Heskett also said that the city has been engaged recently in efforts to update and improve its ordinance book. He indicated that Eulert had read through the ordinance book page by page, making changes. Eulert had finished that task about three weeks prior to Sept. 12, Heskett said. The city attorney explained Eulert had been hard at work on the ordinance book, identifying outdated language.

Heskett also said new code language has been drafted regarding changes in Oklahoma’s alcoholic beverage laws, and regarding medical marijuana. The code book will continue to be improved in the coming months, he said.