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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met Monday morning to handle county business. 

The Board failed to accept donations to county road crews, but managed to agree to pass a resolution to show opposition to HB 2504 concerning the proposed state takeover of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. 

Two important steps were taken in the ongoing XXX Road project.

Donation Disagreement

During the deep freeze and winter storm a few weeks ago, residents of Oklahoma County reached out to District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert to ask how they could thank road crews around the county for their hard and tireless work. Blumert started collecting small donations via Venmo, a mobile payment service app owned by PayPal. With Venmo, users can transfer money instantly to other users, and those payments are recorded and catalogued.

At Monday’s BoCC, Blumert introduced a resolution to accept the donations. With her Chief Deputy Joe Blough, Blumert worked with the Auditor’s office to make sure all necessary documentation was in place, including a detailed list of donors and the amounts they donated.

After Blumert explained the donations, that were intended to buy coffee and donuts for the road crews of all three districts, she moved the resolution. District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan asked Assistant District Attorney Aaron Etherington if they could accept the donation. Etherington coyly said that acceptance would be a policy issue that she could not comment on.

Maughan stated that he just wanted to make sure his vote was legal. Etherington replied that the way the donations were collected was illegal, but accepting the donations, she reiterated, is a policy decision.

Maughan said that while he really appreciated the desire of citizens to thank and help the county workers, he didn’t want to be in violation of any standards.

Blumert’s motion died for want of a second.

“I am disappointed my colleagues would not vote to receive donations from 86 residents to thank our road crews for their work during the February snow storm,” Blumert messaged Free Press responding to our questions. “I worked with the auditor’s office to ensure we had proper documentation for each donation.”

HB 2504

Maughan introduced a resolution to the Board to make public official County opposition to House Bill 2504.

HB 2504 would, according to Maughan, fold Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) and other counties’ health departments into the State Department of Health. Maughan described this as an attempted legislative take-over of local control.

“It’s our tax base that pays for it,” Maughan said, describing the OCCHD. After the meeting, Maughan told Free Press that he did not know of any other example of an “entity funded by local dollars being controlled by a higher form of government.”

“If the state wants to pay for it, then they should run it,” Maughan told us.

Maughan said that if there was some example of malfeasance or a scandal then maybe there would be a reason for it. But, “there’s been nothing that would warrant a state takeover,” Maughan said.

Blumert thanked Maughan for bringing the resolution to the Board, as she was planning to do the same. Blumert said that she has been in touch with Phil Maytubby, the Director of Public Health Protection at OCCHD. Blumert said that the department has strong objections to the bill.

“During the pandemic, I have seen them [OCCHD] respond to the needs of the community quickly and make changes in their response as different needs arise,” Blumert messaged Free Press afterward. “We do not need to give the State Health Department more control over an agency that is operating in a transparent and efficient way.”

Maughan and Blumert both voted for the resolution, but as District Three Commissioner Kevin Calvey was out on vacation, his Chief Deputy Myles Davidson abstained from voting.

XXX Road

Two steps in the ongoing XXX Road (Triple X Road) project in rural District 2 were taken at Monday’s BoCC meeting.

First was to receive bids for Construction Management and Inspection for XXX Road north of 36th at the North Canadian River. Many bids were submitted and will be tabulated and returned to the Board from the Purchasing Agent who will recommend the “lowest and best” bid.

The Purchasing Agent returned a recommendation for accepting a bid for the Streambank Stabilization Project. The Board voted unanimously to accept the bid from Central Bridge Company based in Jones in eastern Oklahoma County.

The Board will meet again on Monday, April 5, at 9:00 a.m.

Last Updated March 15, 2021, 4:43 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor