The City of Owasso has $80,675 of money belonging to Rogers County, and has refused to give it back.

The funds were collected from Rogers County telephone patrons to pay for the operation of the county’s E911 service. The check was inadvertently sent to the City of Owasso due to an address mistake made by the firm which disburses the money.

District 2 Commissioner Mike Helm, whose district borders the Owasso city limits, discovered the problem, and made an official request that the money be returned to Rogers County. His request was ignored.

Helms then enlisted help from the Rogers County District Attorney’s office, and Assistant DA Barry Farbro wrote a letter to the city last month, officially requesting the $80,675.86 be returned to its intended recipient. Owasso refused.

In a memo from Owasso’s Finance Director Sherry Bishop, she states flatly that, “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’ (the disbursing firm) responsibility to compensate Rogers County for any loss they sustained as a result of your company’s negligent actions.”

This money was collected from Rogers County taxpayers. The City of Owasso is in Tulsa County. How could anyone in that city government possibly ascertain that the money was properly theirs?

It would be interesting to know just what account the city credited with the deposit.

If Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray is not a party to this impropriety, he will immediately direct his finance officer to return the money to Rogers County. By doing so he may save himself and the entire city of Owasso a great deal of future embarrassment.

Commissioner Helms is to be commended for finding the error, and working to correct it.

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