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The Oklahoma County Budget Board held a public budget hearing with no residents commenting Wednesday, then approved the budget of $105.7 million for the next fiscal year starting July 1.

The Board went on to allocate money to the Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust) who is preparing to receive control of the jail from the Oklahoma County Sheriff July 1.

The Budget Board is composed of each elected County official: County Commissioners Carrie Blumert, Brian Maughan and Kevin Calvey; Sheriff P.D. Taylor; County Clerk David B. Hooten; Court Clerk Rick Warren; Treasurer Butch Freeman; and County Assessor Larry Stein.

Public Hearing

The Budget Board posted notice of this special meeting on June 4 in order to open a “Public Hearing” on Thursday, June 11.

In spite of the notice, no citizens participated in the meeting. One wonders if there would have been participation if there had been more of an effort to inform the public that the hearing was coming.

This reporter only took note of the meeting because Commissioner Blumert tweeted about the meeting in the morning leading up to it.

The Board went on to approve the budget with only District 3 County Commissioner Kevin Calvey voting against approval. A call to Calvey’s Chief Deputy Myles Davidson to ask why Calvey voted “nay” had not been returned by the time of publication.

The General Fund Budget for the coming year starting July 1 is $105.7 million. This budget, according to Treasurer Freeman, is a balanced budget.

The “budget book” will be made available through the county’s website. The book will detail the individual budgets for each county department. In closing comments Assessor Stein pointed out that the total gross assessed value of the County will top $8 billion this year.

This year’s budget matches the budget for FY20. With uncertainty about revenues due to the coronavirus, the Budget Board agreed weeks ago to approve this budget with the caveat that the Budget Evaluation Team would revisit the budget in July and August in order to amend the budget in time for funds coming in September when a first wave of property tax revenue comes into the County’s coffers.

Bad Position

At the end of the meeting, Sheriff P.D. Taylor expressed concern that the Sheriff’s Office budget does not include some personnel that will be leaving the jail to move over to law enforcement. “This will end up with me having to come back in here in September to beg for more money, which I’ve never done as Sheriff. It’s a bad position to be in.”

In spite of the coming takeover of the jail by the Jail Trust, this year’s Sheriff’s budget is the same as the year before, and will have to be amended when the Jail Trust officially takes control of the Detention Center.

Jail Trust

The Board approved allocation of $292,000 to the Jail Trust for start-up costs.

This allocation will allow the Trust to pay for upfront costs such as IT infrastructure and payroll for the month of June and part of July. On July 1 the Trust will return to ask for all or part of an additional $675,000 for further needs that are not as immediate at this juncture.

Last Updated June 11, 2020, 4:15 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor