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September 15, 2013

Commissioners continue budget talks


The Rogers County Commissioners will meet at 9 a.m. Monday in the courthouse to discuss the 2013-14 budget.
The budget remains approximately $400,000 short of being balanced and some departments are still seeking to increase funding from last year.
Several departments have made cuts to their requests including pay increases for employees. 
Treasurer Cathy Pinkerton-Baker said she has cut computer expenses by $21,000 in addition to any pay increases for her staff.
The maintenance department has already cut the two options for raises they were seeking, according to Director Ryan Baze. 
Emergency Management Director Scotty Stokes said his department has no raises calculated in the budget.
County Clerk Robin Anderson has cut raises for her department, according to First Deputy Teresa Jackson.
Christine Day, secretary to the commissioners, said she also cut her request for a pay raise when the budget numbers came in.
Other departments, including human resources and the planning commission, are working to keep their requests intact, including employee raises.
It has been approximately five years since county employees have received raises across the board, according to county officials.
Most county departments requested individual pay increases of about $2,400, but cut them during the first round of budget negotiations.
It is not clear if any request to increase employee pay will make the final cut. 
During the last budget meeting, Commissioner Kirt Thacker said it was “all or none” when it comes to employee pay increases. 
The commissioners will also discuss another financial matter Monday regarding appropriation of sales and use tax funding for the Rogers County Finance Authority.
The authority is the entity managing the bonds used to pay the $32.5 million debt resulting from the Material Services Inc. lawsuit.
Currently use tax funding is used to pay the $25 million bond payment for the new courthouse and 911 center.
Excess use tax has been dedicated to fund operation of the Rogers County Industrial Development Authority (RCIDA).
RCIDA is the entity managing the courthouse bonds.
In other business, the commissioners will continue discussions about courthouse security and key card access.
Last week a heated discussion about the issue prompted many questions from the public and garnished area media attention.

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