Going too far? Norman Economic Development Authority Trust
Two weeks ago, three Norman city council members voted to bring to the floor a resolution to establish the Norman Economic Development Authority Trust, an all-encompassing agency that removes all economic development matters from the hands of the city council and puts them into the hands of seven trustees. There are many issues concerning the Trust: Accountability? Too broad of a mission? Debt and bonding authority, among others. Their mission statement is constantly changing, but two questions must be answered: Is this Trust good for the people of Norman? And, is the Trust necessary, considering that the City Council already has the authority that it’s delegating to the Trust?
Currently, the Trust Authority can directly affect any and all economic development matters pertaining to transportation, utilities, housing, agriculture, commercial and industrial issues, energy, recreation and tourism, finance — you name it.
Even though the city council will have two council members on the board, the trustees will not be obligated to follow any direction of the city council and are autonomous. Once a piece of property is transferred to the trust, then it will be owned by the trust as long as it exists.
Because of its grandiose and pervading nature and its extensive powers, it is possible that this Trust will transform Norman’s government. It has the potential to take a number of issues away from control of the residents and put them under the control of an autonomous body.