The City of Owasso is disputing a claim that they owe Rogers County approximately $80,000 in erroneously distributed funds.
The funds were for E911 services from April 2001 to December 2005 in Rogers County, and were earmarked for the county. However, due to an address error within the company who disburses the money, the checks were sent to the City of Owasso, who then deposited them into the city’s account.
District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm discovered the problem after several requests for more money from the E911 departments. He then made a request for the funds, with no response. Assistant District Attorney Barry Farbro made a request for the $80,675.86 to be returned to the county last month.
A memo from Owasso’s Finance Director Sherry Bishop states, “After reviewing this matter, we have concluded that the City of Owasso is not obligated to reimburse Rogers County for any error made by your company. Rather, we maintain that it is Thomson RIA/Tax Partners’ responsibility to compensate Rogers County for any loss they sustained as a result of your company’s negligent actions.”
Helm disagrees with that statement.
“They were depositing the checks and they knew it wasn’t for the city,” Helm said. He added that there could be more money owed to the county by the city, possibly going back to the late 1990s when E911 services began.
“If we did some investigating, I would think that it would go back to when E911 started,” Helm said. “The reason we only went to 2001 is because that’s when (Thomson RIA/Tax Partners) took over.”
An audit finding by Thomson RIA/Tax Partners revealed in May the four years of payments that were sent to the City of Owasso.
Although the address mix-up has been fixed and the funds are being properly disbursed now, Helm said he still feels the city has an obligation to return the E911 funds to the county.
Funds from the E911 fee charged to land line phone users is dispersed through individual telephone companies, according to Helm. The E911 fee was adopted in 1997, and users are charged through regular billing from the various companies, he added.
The City of Owasso has been reluctant to return the funds despite two requests from the county.
Helm said there was no response from the city regarding the return of these funds when questioned by the commission, which prompted the commission to request assistance from the district attorney.