Claremore Daily Progress

October 6, 2011

VFD bond issue fails

State statute required fire department to host own election

Tom Fink
Claremore Progress

VERDIGRIS — Verdigris Fire Protection District voters this week failed to pass a proposed $6 million bond issue to allow for the construction of a new fire station.

Final votes cast in the Oct. 4 bond election were 199 votes for and 379 against passage of the bond which would have allowed for a new fire station and extended hours of operation for the district.

Although not all Rogers countians were aware of Tuesday’s election, persons within the Verdigris Fire Protection District were informed by the fire department itself, rather than the usual channels taken by the Rogers County Election Board.

Because of how the Oklahoma State Statute is written regarding fire district bond elections, the fire department itself, rather than the Rogers County Election Board, was responsible for the organization for and execution of the bond election.

“In previous years, we’ve actually helped (Verdigris Fire District) with elections, but about a year ago, they were considering a bond issue and it was brought to our attention that state statutes actually require them to conduct their own election,” said Roy Hancock, Rogers County Election Board.

“We’re allowed to assist in the setting up of a fire district or in the election of board members, but as our interpretation of the state statutes, laws concerning bond issues, they’re required to conduct those elections themselves.”

Even more surprised at this was Verdigris Fire Chief Mike Shaffer.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve ever had to conduct an election of this kind ourselves,” Shaffer said.

“We put years of research into it and brought in several experts who knew about conducting something like this properly. We wanted to make sure it was done correctly, as well as have our bond underwriters and attorneys look at everything so there would be no dispute as to whether or not the election was done properly, which it was.”

In spite of the Ddistrict’s efforts, the bond issue failed to pass, leaving chief Shaffer to contemplate whether or not it will be put before the voters again in the future.

“At this point, it’s too soon to tell whether or not we’ll be trying again,” he said.