The Rogers County Commissioners voted 2 to 1 Monday to support economic development by providing $300,000 in funding to the Rogers County Industrial Development Authority.
Commissioners Kirt Thacker and Dan DeLozier voted in support of the measure, while commissioner Mike Helm spoke strongly in opposition to the funding.
“We have revisited this several times,” Thacker said. “I feel like we need to fund RCIDA.”
Although Thacker acknowledged the board’s inability to fund them as done before the courthouse bonds were written, he clearly stated the need to support job growth in Rogers County and the sales tax revenue that would follow.
DeLozier similarly recognized the fundamental need to sustain economic growth and provide RCIDA with funding.
Helm claimed the excess Use Tax that would be used to fund the organization should be spent for the completion of the 911 Center.
“We voted to do the courthouse and 911 Center with all monies. The 911 Center is not completed,” Helm said.
Helm argued that funding for the center was not adequate to build and equip the facility.
He spoke of the commissioner’s commitment to provide funding for 10 employees at the cost of approximately $350,000.
“There is a lot of funding for the 911 before we can talk about the extra,” Helm said.
Helm did not explain that the funding for the 911 Center is to come directly from the two multi-million-dollar bonds passed by voters.
“The funding for RCIDA is something I have been dedicated for the entire time it has been in place,” DeLozier said. “That is the growth of our county. We have to come up with money for 911 but, we have to take care of our industrial funding.”
DeLozier stated his support for both projects and added, “We may have to pinch down on the 911 Center costs.”
“The people of county voted on a bond issue and it does not matter what the money is, that is what goes in.” Thacker said. “There was a certain amount of money in the bond, it is what it is and that is what you have to work with.”
Thacker said the county does not want to become stagnant with economic development and if that occurs “people will move away.”
Although the funding is not at the level RCIDA needs, Executive Director Mickey Thompson said, “We will make do.”
“We have to be able to trust that we are going to have a consistent flow of money,” Thompson said.
The reliability of funds directly relates to RCIDA’s ability to make long-term decisions and commitments to business, according to Thompson.
Helm continued to protest accusing Thacker and DeLozier of “cutting” the 911 Center funding.
“You have a bond make it work,” Thacker said.
“We dedicated the use tax 100 percent to the bonding,” Thacker said. “We sat in a meetings and told them anything left would go back to RCIDA.”
The bond payment is the same every month and the use tax will continue to make those payments, Thacker said.
Excess use tax is not funding for the 911 Center, according to Thacker.
“This money is not part of the bond,” DeLozier said.
“It is what it is — you [Helm] are trying to combine the two,” Thacker said.
Helm opposed the funding of RCIDA, however last year he was instrumental in the hiring of Rickey Hayes for retail economic development in Rogers County.
Hayes, known for his economic development efforts in Owasso, owns Retail Attractions, LLC.
The board has been paying Hayes approximately $3,000 monthly for services, according to DeLozier.
Hayes recently worked with the City of Claremore to assist with retail development. However after years of low production, the city terminated the contract with Hayes.
Information about the effectiveness of Hayes retail development for Rogers County has not been provided at this time.
Rogers County will be discussing contract renewal with Hayes in the next few weeks.