Claremore Daily Progress

June 28, 2013

Excise Board approves temporary funds

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE —

The Rogers County Excise Board approved temporary appropriations  Thursday for Rogers County, in light of the pending 1 Cent Tax Election.
Rogers County’s total request for appropriations for 2013-2014 is approximately $19,294,000. 
On Sept. 14, 2012, Rogers County published the final budget, approved by the excise board, totaling $18,556,790. The 1 Cent Tax election scheduled for Aug. 13 will determine the final budget, according to Rogers County Commissioner Kirt Thacker.
If the ballot measure fails, it will lower county revenue by approximately $6 million. However, Thacker reports county officials believe it will pass.
Commissioner Dan DeLozier questioned the commissioner’s ability to budget for funds that may not be available.
As a result, DeLozier lowered his request for appropriations to only include the first four months of the fiscal year, prior to the possible expiration of the tax in October.
Excise Board members Karen Ogle and Buck Mullen had a limited discussion about the election and the impact it could have on the budget. Member Casey Reed was not present for the meeting.
“Do we have the funds that are requested?” Ogle said.
Thacker stated that all the funds requested are not currently available and that the requests are made on anticipated revenues.
“At this point, we don’t have all of our numbers from our budget maker,” Thacker said.
“Do we have any reserve, as in money in CDs or assets?” Ogle said.
“There are some in CDs, some bond money from the courthouse to build the plaza,” Thacker said. “We have a building fund. It was approximately $250,000.”
“How much do we estimate the 1 Cent (tax) to be?” Ogle said. “How much are your requests?”
Thacker said he could not answer for the other commissioners, but his request was approximately $2 million.
“We have not seen any numbers, so we don’t know what your request are,” Ogle said.
DeLozier only requested funds until the election and commissioner Mike Helm requested his total appropriations for the year.
Collectively, the commissioners requested approximately $7.6 million from the 1 Cent account,  including approximately $1 million in carryover funds.
“Have the commissioners made an assurance that the funds are a available now?” Mullen said.
When the final budget is complete, the commissioners and the budget maker, Bill Turner, will make the necessary adjustments, according to Thacker.
“The money you are asking for here today is actually here now,” Mullen said.
“The money is not here not now. We work on a monthly appropriation,” DeLozier said.
“The money is not in the bank. It is estimated. We go off historical numbers and estimations,” Thacker added.
“If we approve this, where is the money that is going to go into to repay the debt, the 12 1/2 percent?” Ogle said.
Ogle was concerned about the structure and availability of funds to meet the commissioner’s requests and the required payment on the judgment.
The ballot includes the dedication of 12 1/2 percent of the tax collected to pay toward the debt incurred thru a judgment awarded to Material Services in 2009.
“You realize the funds are going to come in from our tax base and our revenue. But,  with this new vote, you’re not going to get all the [1 cent] funds for your roads. Part of that (funds) is going to pay debt,” Ogle said.
“Well, if it passes as it is written on the ballot, the budget maker will have to calculate that in and make an adjustment,” according to Thacker.
“So, the 1 cent account [numbers] will have to be reduced,” Ogle asked. 
Possibly, if the overall collections of the one-cent did not meet the required amount to pay the judgment and meet requested appropriations, Thacker said. 
The total 1 cent tax collections in 2012-13 are approximately $6.8 million.
The commissioner’s total request for appropriations less carryover is approximately $6.6 million.
The new ballot would require approximately $600,000 to $800,000 be paid toward the judgement. As a result, the commissioners collectively could see about $500,000 reduction in current appropriations.
Based on election results and current appropriations, the commissioners may need to reduce the current appropriations by approximately $1.3 million to be inl ine with last year’s figures.
The board will review  the final budget in the upcoming weeks once final revenue and expense estimates are complete.