The discord between some fire departments and the Mayes County Commissioners continued at the board meeting Monday.
The agenda reflected receipt of a letter from Disney Fire Department’s attorney, Harlan Pinkerton. Prefacing the letter was a reference to a civil lawsuit, CV- 13-04, in which Ron Coats is suing the town of Disney. The cause is listed as a declaratory and injunctive relief.
The body of the letter, however, made no reference to this lawsuit, so it was not discussed further.
Commissioner Alva Martin read the letter into the record.
“Based upon actions of the Board of County Commissioners several months ago and by a two-one vote, the board elected to thwart the will of the people of Mayes County by arbitrarily and summarily changing the proceeds of the .25 percent sales tax was initiated Jan. 1, 2003, for support of the Mayes County Fire Department,” the letter stated.
The decision referenced was a motion passed by the commissioners to re-allocate the money accrued from the sales tax. Money would be distributed in a flat rate to each department, additional money would be allotted based on the number of fire runs taken. Martin and Commissioner Darrell Yoder voted in favor of the change and Commissioner Ryan Ball voted against.
“Please accept this as a formal demand that the proceeds of the sales tax be reallocated in conformity with the resolution to provide equal distribution of all sums among various fire departments as provided by the sales tax county question. Further, that payment be made to the town of Disney for any past sales tax that was not so properly allocated,” the letter continued.
The letter concluded by saying the town of Disney is considering initiating legal action against the board of county commissioners and the Mayes County Treasurer if this request is not met.
Silence at the conclusion of the letter was broken by Martin.
“I think they need to pony up and go to court,” said Martin. “I've asked for documents and they won't let me have them. Darrell has asked too and they won't give them to him, either.”
Martin said it was his understanding Disney has seven firefighters.
“Of those seven, three live northwest of Adair and two live in Pryor. That leaves two in Langley to fight a fire. So is it fair to pump $65,000 into a department where the fire fighters aren't even there because they live in a different town?,” said Martin.
“It's what the people voted for,” said Ball in reference to the 2003 vote regarding the original tax distribution.
“I've asked you for the records and you won't give them to us,” Martin said to Ball. “There's a reason we can't have them.”
“Oh really,” said Ball.
“You know there is. Do you have them Ryan?” said Martin.
“None of your business,” said Ball.
“That's what I thought,” said Martin.
Though the letter was addressed solely to the county commissioners, it was accompanied by an additional page listing the other individuals sent a copy. Mayes County Treasurer Demecia Franklin and Municipal Utility Clerk of Disney Sherry Page were listed. Mayor Judy Barger of Disney, Ball individually and Mayes County District Attorney Janice Steidley were listed as recipients as well.
The commissioners agreed to forward the letter to their attorney but take no formal action at this time.