The city struck a financing plan with Bank of America before the new law was passed, but since they’ve been added to that list of banned banks. Tonight officials had to decide whether the project would move forward.
After a lot of conversation between Stillwater counsel members weighing their options of what they could do, they decided to not risk being sued if they were to move forward with Bank of America and do the project with local business partners instead.
“In my 7 years or so on council, I’m not sure we’ve dealt with an issue that is as complex and problematic from the standpoint of trying to figure out what’s best for the community and Stillwater are overall,” Will Joyce, Mayor of Stillwater said.
Stillwater was left with a tough decision due to the state’s new law which would no longer allow them to do business with Bank of America; although they already had a deal in place with them before HB 2034 became law.
“We would be relying on the letter from the Attorney General,” Kimberly Carnley, Attorney for City of Stillwater said. “There hasn’t been much guidance for cities on how to navigate the exemptions available.”
Met with a dilemma that no one in the state has faced before, city staff decided to take the safe route instead of relying on that letter from the attorney general if an issue were to arise.
“So if we were to take the attorney general’s literally face value and move forward to this point, financing, I understand there’s nothing preventing a future attorney general for revoking that letter,” Kevin Clark, council member said. “It is possible,” Carnley said.
So, they will now practically start from scratch, and with the oversight of a committee, will make a plan of how they will get the project done only using local businesses.
“It helps because of the commitment to work with the renewable energy task force moving forward,” Mayor Joyce said. “The quarterly meetings where those folks on that committee who are very committed to making sure this stuff happens or holding us accountable to making sure that it does, I feel more comfortable with saying this is something that we can accomplish on our own.”
City staff has 30 days to come up with a game plan which will be overseen by the renewable energy task force during this process.