Claremore Daily Progress

June 26, 2013

UPDATE: Incorrect case number may put county sales tax up in air

1/3 cent sales tax to pay Material Services judgement

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter


Rogers County could be facing an issue with the June 26, 2012 1/3 cent sales tax election designed to pay the $32.5 million judgment awarded to Material Services Inc.

In documents for filing of the 1/3 cent sales tax, the wrong case number was placed in all documents. The ballot, proposition and newspaper publication contain the incorrect case number.

The case number CJ-2004-234, Walter Mortgage vs. Donald Cowan, in the District Court of Mayes County is not the correct case number relating to the lawsuit.

The Rogers County case number is CJ-2004-234, Material Services Corporation vs. Rogers County Commissioners, however, the Mayes County case number is CV-2009-42.

The proposition reads, “…The Rogers County Finance Authority for the purpose of satisfying debt in Case No. CJ-2004-234 in the District Court of Mayes County…”

Voters overwhelmingly approved the 1/3 cent sales tax to pay for the $32.5 million judgment. The measure passed by a 10,247 to 3,278 margin.

It is not clear at this time who is responsible for writing the documents.

The Claremore Daily Progress notified the Rogers County commissioners of the error once verified.

Commissioners are seeking legal advice on the issue.

“This is a matter for the legal department to look into. We are talking about, and it is purely a legal issue,” said Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker. “As a commissioner we are going to rely on the law experts. It may be huge or nothing.”

“Like everything we will do the right thing and take care of it,” Thacker said.

Commissioner Mike Helm reviewed the information, but provided no comment.

Commissioner Dan DeLozier said he would be looking into the issue to determine who is responsible. 

“We will be looking into this with our attorneys and review all the subjects to see what happened here or if there is a wrong done here,” said DeLozier.

If the election is determined to be invalid the county could face additional issues.

The county has collected about $1.3 million in sales tax since the tax went into affect in November 2012.

Rogers County makes monthly bond payments of approximately $190,000 from the collected sales tax.

The $32.5 million bond financed through the Rogers County Finance Authority could be in question as well.

The authority board, which consists of the three commissioners, accepted assignment of the judgment on Aug. 13, 2012 in order to apply sales tax payments to the debt.

The board approved the documents containing the incorrect case number for the election that were also provided to bond counsel.

The Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said his staff has been in contact with the Rogers County Election Board.

“A court would determine if the election is invalid,” Ziriax said.

The Rogers County Election Board was provided the proposition by the county, according to Ziriax.

The responsibility of the election board is to conduct an election, he added.

“From the perspective of the reports that I have received the Rogers County Election Board conducted the election properly and according to the law,” Ziriax said.

The problem appears to be a defect in the way the proposition was written, he added.