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Thursday, the Oklahoma County Budget Board and Board of County Commissioners both met to address spending on health and safety measures, among other business.

They also heard public comments about various aspects of the CARES Act relief money county is in the closing days of spending.

COVID Risk at meetings

Due to a scheduling error, the meetings were held back to back in the smaller BOE Meeting Room, a space that accommodates far fewer people. As the Budget Board commenced, I could count at least a dozen people attending the meeting, in addition to the nine members of the Board and staff from the County Clerk’s office.

Five people attending the meeting in the crowded room refused to wear masks, even after hearing from County Assessor Larry Stein that he had recently suffered a bout with the COVID-19. Stein added that three of his friends had succumbed to the deadly disease in recent weeks.

Stein and all other members of the Board wore masks throughout the meetings.

Public Comment

District 3 County Commissioner Kevin Calvey, chairman of the Budget Board, moved Citizen Participation to the beginning of the meeting. Three citizens had signed up to speak. Each speaker was given one minute total to address the Board.

First was local business owner Sean Cummings, who encouraged the Board to give more CARES money to the recently launched small business relief program. He said that over 800 applications had already been received by the program.

Second to speak was Leslie Nesmith who said that the $10 million of remaining CARES money should go back to addressing the condition of the jail, since the jail affects every member of the community, not just a few.

Last to speak was Carol Hefner, who echoed Nesmith and went on to encourage people who might be following from home to start coming to these meetings to have an influence on what happens at the county.

The remainder of the meeting by the recommending body was spent discussing business matters, mostly pertaining to health and safety costs for various departments. Some of the items included CARES eligible spending on UV sanitation devices, and the contracts to install them.

After the Budget Board adjourned the assembled crowd waited until 10:30 for the meeting of the Board of County Commissioners.

County Commissioners

The meeting was gavelled in at 10:30, and Calvey opened the meeting with a prayer and a pledge of allegiance to a virtual flag.

Again, Calvey moved Citizen Participation to the top of the agenda, and again the same three speakers came before the Board, largely making the same statements they made in the previous meeting. 

Cummings made the charge that if the County spends money to fix the Detention Center  instead of requiring the Jail Trust to do it, then the County is effectively back to running the Jail.

The Board swiftly moved through their agenda, many items of which had just been approved by the Budget Board.

Jesus House development

At the end of the meeting, the Board recessed to Executive Session to review three suits in which the County is a party.

One of those items is a suit by Jesus House vs the City of OKC, the County, and several utility companies.

Jesus House has petitioned the City to close a portion of an alley permanently so they may use some of the easement in an upcoming expansion of their campus and services. 

The City approved the closure weeks ago, but the process of permanently vacating the City’s easement requires a non-adversarial suit to be filed naming each of those parties, asking each of them to disclaim. Generally this results in a short hearing and some papers being signed to complete the suit. The Utility companies are named because they may have infrastructure in the area that they will need access to in the future. Typically the utilities are granted access to the area unless the owner agrees to have the infrastructure moved at the owner’s own expense.

In Thursday’s Executive Session, the Board of County Commissioners agreed to disclaim subject to any outstanding property taxes.

The County Commissioners are next scheduled to meet on Monday, December 7 at 9:00 a.m.

Last Updated December 3, 2020, 12:35 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor