Ada City Council voted unanimously to keep David Hathcoat as Ada city manager Thursday.
This was a change from Tuesday’s 4 to 1 vote at a special called meeting in which Mayor Dick Scalf cast the only vote against renewing Hathcoat’s contract. The official vote was cast after a two-hour executive session.
Before the executive session, talks grew tense when the subject came to water.
Agenda item number eight concerned discussion and action on issuing a request for proposals to hire an engineering company to provide a technical review on the Arbuckle-Simpson Hydrology Study.
The study will be one of the primary factors in deciding water management for the aquifer in the near future, along with Senate Bill 288 and other existing water legislation in the state and the nation. Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer is the primary source of drinking water for Ada.
Hathcoat said the city will advertise a scope of work for an engineering company that has expertise on the aquifer. The city would then receive several proposals on each company’s qualifications and what they would look at. The city would decide which company is best (should it be needed) and then negotiate a price.
A majority of council agreed a request for proposals would put the city in a better position should the study have negative results for Ada.
The majority of council agreed just a proposal would come at no cost. The lone holdout was Scalf.
“It’s in there,” Scalf said. “It’s done.”
Councilmember Greg McCortney said it would make sense to have someone hired by the city to look at it as a possible plan B.
Councilmember Shane Sweeney said when the report is released by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, Ada officials will have a certain amount of time to comment on any issues. Ada points of the study Ada wishes to challenge must come in that time frame.
“It’s my understanding that if the Oklahoma Water Resources Board implements a plan that is not favorable to us — is not favorable either to Ada, the aquifer or whoever — that your main recourse is to argue some of the science behind their decision, so we want to make that argument,” McCortney said.
“Well, with all due respect, I just don’t think you understand what’s already been done, or what the process is,” Scalf said.
“So you believe that every hydrologist agrees with that study?” McCortney fired back.
“Yes,” Scalf said. “Every hydrologist that can spell water has already reviewed that nationwide, not just locally.”
Councilmember Matt Layton attempted to clarify McCortney’s position.
“I think the question may be — and Shane (Sweeney) and Greg can correct me if I’m wrong — I’m sure the hydrologists have reviewed it on what’s best for the aquifer...I think what these guys are getting at is, we want somebody to look at it with the point of view of what’s best for the city of Ada,” Layton said. “It’s kind of one step removed from only thinking about the aquifer — which, we absolutely need to do — but I think Ada also has unique characteristics and responsibilities and wants and needs that I don’t think that study addresses.”
“And that’s what the Ada Water Resources Board did,” Scalf said. And you will not find any scientist anywhere that’s more capable than the ones that reviewed (it) for Ada.”
Councilmember Sweeney emphasized the fact that the city would not be spending any money, only to have the ability to have a request.
“Who would you get?” Scalf asked. “That’s the problem. All of them have already reviewed it.”
“It ought to be easy and cheap then,” Layton said.
Sweeney said there would be no harm in getting a request.
“If there’s a harm in it, tell me what it is,” he said. “We’re not voting to expend any money, we’re just requesting information.”
Council approved the measure four to one with Scalf voting no.