The Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met Monday for the final time in 2020. The Board voted to allocate $5,050,000 to the Oklahoma Industries Authority to continue a small business relief program, and to fund testing for Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD).
Three people attending Monday’s meeting signed up to address the BoCC.
First was Mark Faulk, a local activist, who told the board that the humanity of this vote was “a given.” He pointed out that the Budget Board had approved of this already, and that the BoCC should not go against the wishes of the other elected officials.
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Next was restaurateur Sean Cummings, who pointed out that he has been coming to county meetings about these funds for six months. He asked the Board to give this money to COVID relief so that he could stop coming to these meetings. He joked that the Board was probably sick of seeing him, too, so it would be in their interest to pass the spending resolution.
Last was Christopher Johnston, a veteran and mental health care worker, who simply pointed out that the CARES Act money was for COVID relief, not for pre-existing problems like those proposed to be remedied at the Jail. He called for the BoCC to give the CARES funds to small business relief.
The Board considered an item that was passed at the County Budget Board meeting the week before.
The original item would have given OIA $8.7 million. $5 million of that would go toward expansion of the small business relief program. The remaining $3.7 million was intended to be used by the OCCHD to use a new comprehensive medical information exchange program.
When the item was brought up for consideration by the BoCC, OCCHD Chief Operating Officer Phil Maytubby was asked to speak.
Maytubby said that considering the highly technical concerns of the information exchange, the Department wanted to withdraw their request for the $3.7 million. He said, instead, that they would request $50,000 for saliva-based COVID tests.
District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan, who voted against this action in Budget Board, stated that his chief concern about this vote was the high price tag of $3.7 million. He said with that reduced he could support the allocation.
As the claims pertaining to these funds had been separated into two sets of allocations, the allocation for $3.7 million could be amended downward to $50,000.
A vote was called and Maughan was joined by District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert in voting to approve it. District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey, alone, opposed the measure.
OIA has reported that they have only enough time to distribute the $5 million before the December 31 deadline for spending CARES Funds.
As a point of new business, the County’s Director of Emergency Management, David Barnes, gave a brief presentation on the worsening COVID crisis in the County, saying that many departments of the county have had cases. His office recommended a renewed call for personal responsibility in matters such as masking and hand washing, but also encouraged County Department Directors to allow staff to work from home if able. The office also recommended a return to limiting elevator traffic to two persons per car.
The Board of County Commissioners will meet again on January 4, 2021.
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