MIAMI — The annual budget topped the agenda at two meetings of the Ottawa County Commissioners in the past week, and at one at an Excise Board meeting.
At the first meeting to discuss the budget Friday, June 28, a monthly report was submitted to the commissioners by County Assessor Becky Smith, and Kathy Bowling, County Treasurer, submitted the annual resale budget.
Smith discussed the annual budget, saying that she and Bowling have mentioned several times that there needs to be a different time frame for the budget because (county property bills for) taxes have been going out in an untimely manner.
Smith said she was under the assumption that the county was going to do things differently this year, “but evidently we are not. We are going to do it just like we always have in the past.”
“Bill Turner, county CPA and an Excise Board member, was under the impression we were going to have a (preliminary) meeting like we had in the past so everyone could hash out their budgets with the Excise Board,” Bowling said.
“We thought there were going to be preliminary hearings before the budget meeting. We thought there was going to be one today, but it wasn’t on the agenda. If we meet in July to do preliminaries, and then wait a whole month to set the budget, we are back where we have been for the past three or four years — getting tax statements out in the middle of December,” Smith said.
“The sooner we get our budget set, the sooner the ball rolls to get taxes out, which makes us (the county) income,” Bowling said.
Smith added, “I am supposed to deliver a tax roll to Kathy (Bowling) by Oct. 1; we don’t even have money (from property taxes collected) by October.”
“I think the statute says the budget is supposed to be set by July 1,” Bowling said.
“But it never is,” added District Attorney Kenny Wright.
“When Robyn (Mitchell), County Clerk, and I spoke with Bill Turner, he said he wasn’t coming to today’s meeting (last Friday) because we are not giving him numbers. So there is nothing we can talk about until we give him numbers, which won’t be until after 5 p.m. today,” Natasha Mays, County Purchasing Agent, said.
“This will be up to the Excise Board, but the way I read their agenda item, cash fund estimates of need and requests for appropriations is where I thought we would discuss the things the county offices wanted to tell the Excise Board,” Wright said.
“That’s what I thought, that we were going to hash it out today before this meeting to finalize it on Tuesday (July 2) with the Excise Board,” Bowling said. “That is the delay. Bill thinks he is coming on Tuesday to say ‘Okay, this is how much every office is getting.’ Then everybody signs on the line and it’s over.”
Commissioner Russell Earls asked what could be done differently. Bowling said that nothing could be this year.
Earls added that this is where the county always is every year at this time. Smith said, “Yes, that is what we are saying…”
Bowling then voiced concern that if, after Tuesday’s meeting, there are still questions, it would push the meeting to set the budget into August and then suggested a special meeting be held later in July.
Earls responded that Mitchell’s office would have to coordinate with the Excise Board members, as well as the Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners (BOCC), to come up with a date that would work for everyone.
“I think we all agree that the sooner we get the taxes out the sooner we have money coming in that we really need so that we won’t have to borrow any more,” Bowling said.
Regarding the Sheriff’s Office’s outstanding invoices and unpaid personnel for the fiscal year which ended June 30, no action was taken by the board.
Sheriff Jeremy Floyd presented updated invoices and amounts and the board recommended that he pay them with the new fiscal year’s budget, which began July 1.
The board then approved a resolution authorizing the renewal of lease-purchase agreements for 2019-2020 for everything but two of the Sheriff’s Office squad cars. Wright said he would look at the agreement to see whether it is a month to month or an automatic renewal for a year. If it is month-to-month, it is fine, according to Wright. “Then we will try to work on a contract that appeals to the correct number of cars. The sheriff will be working on some numbers.”
At the Tuesday, July 2 meeting of the Excise Board, Sheriff Floyd presented additional budget information and, after the board went over each item, Turner said that he thinks the sheriff’s office should be in pretty good shape for the new fiscal year, if the revenue for the new year remains the same as it was for the fiscal year that just ended.
After review of each county office’s estimated budget, Turner said it might be best to do temporary appropriations until the final numbers are available, which would allow the county funds to be used right away.
Larry Gatewood, Excise Board chairman, said that, since the budget could not be set Tuesday, it could be until the second or third week of August before it could be finalized.
Earls voiced his opinion that the boards still needed time to work on certain areas within the budget to whittle them down, and suggested that a tentative meeting be scheduled for later in the month to finalize the budget, noting that if they are not ready by that date it could be pushed back.
Gatewood and the excise board agreed and a tentative special meeting was set for 1:15 p.m. on July 25.
In other matters at the Friday meeting, commissioners approved calling upon the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fully investigate and completely remediate the old B.F. Goodrich site in Miami.
The site, according to LEAD Agency executive director Rebecca Jim at last week’s commissioners’ meeting, issues at the site include abandoned lead mine shafts, wells, and the presence of Benzene and asbestos.
Work has begun at the site, overseen by Mike McAteer of the EPA, but Jim feels the resolution is needed in order for the work to ensure it includes complete investigation and remediation.
In other matters, the commissioners approved the following designation of requisitioning and receiving officers for 2019-2020:
Quapaw Fire: Will Langley, Robyn Mitchell, requisitioning; Bill Nichols and Natasha Mays, receiving.
District 2: Chad Masterson and Darrin Hance, requisitioning; Phillip Oleman, Coby Hilton, and LaWayne Clapp, receiving.
Afton Fire: Jason Speer, Brian Gibson, and Robyn Mitchell, requisitioning; Steve Williams and Natasha Mays, receiving.
Fairland Fire: Mike Goins and Robyn Mitchell, requisitioning; Marcus Ellison and Natasha Mays, receiving.
Health Department: Sarah Mace, Marsha Moore, and Maria Alexander, requisitioning, and Ana Sofia Malloy; Veronica Long, receiving.
In addition, the board approved one of the Sheriff’s Office employees to receive donated leave, and for five employees to donate sick leave through the County’s Shared Leave Plan.