Claremore Daily Progress

Government

October 1, 2013

Commissioners delay pay raise discussion

CLAREMORE —

Budget discussions were delayed Monday due to the absence of CPA Bill Turner at the Rogers County Commissioners’ weekly meeting.
Commissioners finalized other financial business, but put off for a week any decision on employee pay increases from excess use tax funding.
The commissioners voted unanimously to dedicate certain sales tax and use tax to the Rogers County Finance Authority.
Although the commissioners did not answer questions about the decision during the meeting, attorney Paul Johanning spoke briefly on the issue.
“In order to accomplish what you intend to accomplish with your sales tax and use tax, you must appropriate it to your authority and use it for those purposes,” Johanning said. “It has to go through the authority, which financed the bonds to pay the judgment.”
Commissioner Kirt Thacker diverted questions to Johanning, but  explained after the meeting the board voted to allocate excess use tax funding to the Finance Authority.
The excess use tax has been the subject of several discussions in the past two weeks due to Thacker and commissioner Mike Helm’s plan to use the funding to provide pay raises.
Johanning did not verify the money would be used to provide pay increases, but said 1/8 of the money would be used to pay toward the judgment in the $32.5 million lawsuit involving mining company Material Services, Inc.
County voters decided to allocate  the 1/8 of a cent to the debt in August as part of the renewal of a five-year One Cent Sales Tax dedicated to road and bridge maintenance.
Although the ballot did not specify use tax to pay toward the debt, Johanning said it was the intention of the board to do so as permitted by law.
In the past few years the use tax has been used to support the Rogers County Industrial Development Authority. It is not clear how the change will affect the organization or the courthouse bonds the funding is used to secure.

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