PRYOR, OK — Dear Editor,
I am very concerned about recent publicized reports regarding the funding of our county sheriff’s department. If we regard the reports as accurate, we are going to experience an extreme shortfall in the 2013-2014 budget; which directly affects our safety as well as other county services.
Apparently, the funding of this office has been illegal in as much as approximately 50 percent has been coming from the non-reoccurring account funded by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections for housing of state inmates waiting to be transported to a state facility, which by law is not supposed to be part of the operating budget. This has been necessary because for years the county has been negligent to fund the jail as required by state statute. The Department of Corrections is now moving these inmates out of county jails to state facilities as quickly as possible to cut costs at the state level. While expenses related to those inmates will decrease, the recurring monthly expenses of the jail will remain the same.
As per an interview with Fox 23 News, Sheriff Mike Reed advised the county commissioners in 2013 that this would happen and county funding needed to be increased. The commissioners ignored Sheriff Reed’s pleas and we now have a dire situation that has no immediate resolve. A county sales tax increase is proposed for a future solution, but most of us believe our sales tax rate is high enough. With combined state, local and county, we are paying 9.625 percent tax on our local purchases. That is over one percent more than we would pay shopping in Tulsa. Do we really want to entice more retail shopping out of Pryor by raising the current county sales tax? We need another solution.
Could this crisis have been avoided? Have the county commissioners been doing their jobs in budgeting our tax dollars?