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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — In the first meeting of the new fiscal year (FY22) for Oklahoma County, the Board of County Commissioners approved a wide range of spending on agreements that went into effect July 1.

Many of the expenditures were routine concerning such items as copiers, maintenance agreements, and many other types of spending that need to happen each year to keep county services running.

Most notable were actions to pay for:

  • Courthouse elevator modernization
  • Systems for the Sheriff
  • Jail-to-courthouse transfer agreement with Jail Trust
  • New computer citizen access to the County Assessor’s office through the Internet

Courthouse elevators

For those who need to be in the 84-year-old Oklahoma County Courthouse, a familiar sight is to see at least one, if not two, of the four elevators out of order.

If multiple elevators are out of order during a trial docket, movement between floors is especially difficult when jurors, visitors, and courthouse personnel typically fill the hallways trying to get to their courtrooms.

Elevators that are out of order affects the public and those who work in the courthouse more than any other aspect of the aging building.

It is possible to cross the alleyway between the Courthouse and the Annex and use the elevators there to then cross back over on a walkway to the Courthouse again, but that route does not connect with all of the floors in the Courthouse.

To remedy the situation, money for modernization of the courthouse elevators was approved with a price tag of $1.8 million.

It will mean a complete overhaul of all of the heavy elements that make the elevators work.

Zach Searl, a representative of the Kone company, answered a few questions from commissioners mostly about time frames and how to work around visitors to the courthouse as the work is being done.

  • After modernization, reliability of the elevators should be around 95%.
  • Modernization should take from 18-20 weeks and be complete by February 2023.
  • Life expectancy for modernization should be about 30 years.
  • The heaviest and loudest work will in the machine rooms and will be done over one weekend per elevator to keep disruptions down.
  • The most time-consuming part will be getting permits and then manufacturing the equipment.
  • The pandemic has created a challenge for all manufacturers due to the supply chain being disrupted.

Keith Monroe, Director of Facilities Management for Oklahoma County, talked with Free Press about the elevator rebuilds during the downtime in the gallery while commissioners were in executive session.

We asked if the public would be able to see any difference when they used the elevators in the stately Deco-design Courthouse.

“You won’t see anything, except the public will experience and the people that work here and come here will experience improved reliability,” Monroe told us. “That’s the whole idea. If you look in the hoist ways, if you have access to machine rooms and those kinds of things, you’ll see new equipment, new motors, new switches, new gears.”

Sheriff systems

In addition to several MOUs, the Sheriff’s office had several items approved for spending for maintenance and service in FY22:

  • Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD) – $53,054.42
  • Online Report Management System (RMS) – $107,214.00
  • Axon Body Worn Cameras – $70,399.95

MOU with Jail Trust

A memorandum of understanding was passed with the Oklahoma County Jail Trust to pay the Sheriff’s Office $656,997.96 for transporting jail detainees to and from the courthouse for court appearances during the fiscal year.

Previously, when the Sheriff ran the jail, that expense was a part of the Sheriff’s budget from Oklahoma County.

County Assessor online filing improvements

CARES Act funds of $205,000 were approved to give more access to the County Assessor services online which will reduce the number of people who currently have to come to the Annex for a number of services.

Once the new systems are in place, county residents will be able to file the following online:

  • Business Personal Rendition
  • Farm Personal Rendition
  • Manufactured Home Rendition
  • Freeport Exemption Rendition
  • Homestead Application
  • Additional Homestead Application
  • Senior Valuation Freeze Application
  • Charitable Tax Exemption
  • Real Estate Valuation Appeal
  • Personal Property Valuation Appeal

“For the longest time, our goal has been to be able to do that, but we never had the money to be able to do it,” County Assessor Larry Stein told Free Press after the meeting.”

Stein said that the “COVID funds” are designed to reduce contact in public spaces and so that’s how they were able to use that money for the new public access.

“We’ve had concerns about being able to have a system where the technology would be secure, and accurate, and we’d be able to have everything blend right into our database,” Stein continued. And, this new system would be able to do that.

Mowing for Edmond

Oklahoma County signs MOUs yearly for different road and maintenance services with municipalities that may consider it more efficient to pay the county to deliver those services instead of investing in their own equipment.

One such item Thursday was the consideration and passage of an MOU with the City of Edmond that will reimburse Oklahoma County for all actual expenses incurred by the County for mowing along certain roadways with a cost not to exceed $86.23 per lane mile.

District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey told Free Press that the reimbursement would come to 100% of the county’s costs and would be for 208 lane miles within Edmond city limits.

Last Updated July 1, 2021, 10:35 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor