Possibly avoiding a legal dispute, the City of Owasso has agreed to repay $18,000 to the county for misdirected funds they received.
Rogers County Commissioner Mike Helm brought the missing E911 funds to the attention of the Commission in May. More than $80,000 have been misdirected to the City of Owasso due to an internal address error by Thomson RIA/Tax Partners, the company which collects and distributes the funds to municipalities and county governments.
Since that time, Rogers County Assistant District Attorney Barry Farbro has demanded payment from both the city and Tax Partners. There has been some resolve in the last month.
“Owasso has agreed to reimburse Tax Partners for the previous fiscal year,” Farbro told the commission Monday. “Owasso will pay $18,000 to Tax Partners, who will then distribute that to (Rogers County).”
Owasso officials did in fact agree to pay $18,000 to Tax Partners, according to City of Owasso Finance Director Sherry Bishop. Beyond that, the city has no obligation, according to the city attorney.
E911 funds for Rogers County had been sent to the City of Owasso prior to 2001, according to Helm, but could only be traced to that year by Tax Partners.
City officials say legislation prevents the city from paying any encumbrances not presented 90 days after the close of the fiscal year. However, the $18,000 they will now pay to reimburse the county is within that limit.
For the remainder of the missing funds — approximately $62,000 — Helm says the county will have to pursue Tax Partners for reimbursement.
“The remaining money will have to be discussed with (Farbro) and Tax Partners,” he said. “We have to take our case to them and sue them because they’re the ones who paid the wrong people. Then they will have to worry about getting it from the city.”
E911 fees are collected by various telephone companies through phone bills. That money is then distributed by Tax Partners to the appropriate governmental entities for E911 services provided.
Just last month, the county agreed to allow Farbro to issue a letter demanding payment from Tax Partners. If Tax Partners failed to pay the more than $80,000 within 30 days, the county would then take legal action.