The Rogers County Commissioners approved Monday the implementation of utility permit fees, beginning May 1.
The measure was submitted after a week of review and correspondence with area utility companie. The board took action only modifying the fee amounts.
Administration fees will now be $100, while road crossings will be $150 and parallel installations will be 30 cents per linear foot.
Each utility company will also be required to have a $500 bond in place prior to the start of a project.
The change came, at the request of Planning Commission Director Larry Curtis, after receiving feedback from the utility companies.
The local companies, including rural water districts, were concerned about the impact the rates would have, according to Curtis.
The districts requested that the administrative fees be lowered.
“I believe it would help local companies,” Curtis said.
The fees,however, will impact larger longer runs due to the increase per linear foot, he added.
The primary issue is that some utility companies do not properly install their lines, creating a liability for the county, according to Commissioner Kirt Thacker.
“We need to get a hold on these utility companies,” Thacker said.
“It streamlines my time and my office’s time,” Assistant District Attorney David Iski said.
Some companies do damage to county property, easements, ditches or roads and simply leave the damage, Thacker said.
Each time there is damage to a utility line, either at the fault of the county or not, the company files a tort claim.
These claims cost a minimum of $5,000, according to Thacker.
“We are trying to work in the best interest of the public, Commissioner Mike Helm said. “We have practiced every good faith we can by delaying this and contacting them.”
“You have given them notice and the opportunity to come before you,” Iski said. “I have run into the same thing in Mayes County. Utilities believe they have the right to put utilities in where and when they want,”
“We are not only insuring the public is safe now but also in the future,” Thacker said.
The county will not make money from the utility fees, according to Curtis.
Public comments regarding the utility permits were limited. The board did not hold a public hearing Monday, however, did provide an opportunity at the previous meeting.
Local business owner, Myron Grubowski, questioned the board about the use of Okie to locate utilities.
The commissioners said that they each call Okie before digging.
“They [utility companies] are going to pass this cost on,” Grubowski said.
The board agreed that would be likely.
No utility companies were present for the meeting.