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Developer Mark Ruffin agrees to pay Edmond more money

EDMOND — The debate over the city of Edmond continuing to provide bus service to the Social Security office in Oklahoma City might be close to a resolution.

Developer Mark Ruffin has handed over a $64,646 check to the city and signed a one-year contract despite an increase in the price tag.

Edmond Public Transportation Committee members this week approved a recommendation to the city council to accept the deal with Ruffin and Market SSA to provide public transportation outside the city limits.

Since 2013, Citylink has altered its Oklahoma City-Edmond route to stop at the Social Security office on the northwest corner of NE 122 and Kelley Avenue in Oklahoma City.

Ruffin, who constructed the building, went to the city at that time asking for a bus stop at his building. He was willing to pay $63,600 to Edmond after failing to come up with a deal with Oklahoma City's bus system.

The cost was $1,000 a month plus a one-time payment of $50,000. The remaining $1,600 was for reprinting the bus schedules.

The next year, his cost dropped to $26,020. But this year, city officials recalculated the annual bill to include actual costs, indirect expenses and depreciation costs and came up with the $64,646 figure.

At the time of the original proposal, Ruffin and his partner, Nick Preftakes, told the transportation committee that federal law requires the Social Security office to provide public transportation.

Victoria Caldwell, Edmond Public Transportation Committee chairman and city council member, said the city now has been told by Ruffin it is no longer a federal requirement.

"It is a good and necessary thing to do," Ruffin said after leaving a transportation committee meeting this week.

The higher cost sparked negotiations between Ruffin and the city when he originally did not want to pay the higher cost for three stops a day at the Social Security office.

Ruffin then wanted to cut the daily stops to two and reduce the contract to $44,214. The transportation committee turned down his two-stop offer last month.

"The two-stop consideration, we knew that wasn't adequate," Ruffin said during the transportation committee meeting. "I would say in defense of me and city staff we have been paying $26,000 and got hit with $74,000, we were kind of in shock, to be honest with you."

The city council will make a final decision on Aug. 28. If approved, the contract is retroactive to July 1. Buses have continued to stop at the Social Security office even though there was no signed contract.

"We clearly do want to pay for that service," Ruffin said. "We understand that we have an obligation regardless of the current contract. We certainly don't want anything for free."

Last fiscal year, there were 2,456 rides associated with the Social Security office, averaging 9.75 passengers a day.

Since January, there have been 1,005 rides to or from the Oklahoma City office.

"The service we are providing is not ideal, but it is not bad either," Ruffin said. "We are serving a lot of people based on the census you guys have taken. It is more than we thought.

"So, there is a need being met. The way I look at it, it is a nice public/private partnership and the way it is structured now it is just a continuation of service the way it is now."

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›