What’s going on here?

WAGONER COUNTY AUTHORITY LENDING FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO SCHOOL IN BIXBY

By Judy Collis | News Editor | The Broken Arrow Ledger

[ MAY 26, 2009 – BROKEN ARROW, OK ] – CPA Kerry Patton of Broken Arrow will be asked to appear before the Wagoner County Education Facility Authority on Monday to answer for what that authority’s trustees are calling mistakes on an audit the county was mistakenly billed for.

If it was mistakenly billed to the county, why so much interest in whether it is correct or incorrect?

It seems the audit was for the Wagoner County Education Facilities Authority, but was billed to the Wagoner County (commissioners) and is for a trust authority that may sign lease revenue notes with a school located in Tulsa County.

Confused? So are the commissioners, who claim they’ve never held a meeting as the trust authority since approving the trust indenture on May 5, 2008, and never approved any expenditures.

Two documents, one of which states the Wagoner County Commissioners met, and another which states the Wagoner County Education Facilities Authority met May 14, the same date, seem to indicate commissioners met in both capacities, but District 1’s Tom Vincent and District 3’s Jim Hargrove – both of whom were in office at the time – deny they ever attended such a meeting.

Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agents are looking into the matter, said Wagoner County Clerk Carolyn Kusler. She said she is still concerned with matters of the open records act with regard to this situation.

Apparently, the audit states Wagoner County sales tax was encumbered by the trust authority, among other mistakes Vincent and Hargrove say the audit contains.

Vincent moved for a state audit to straighten out the situation, but Hargrove and Jordan Smith of Stephen L. Smith Corp., of Jenks, and Terry Hawkins of Phillips Murrah Attorneys and Counselors at Law of Oklahoma City, who were present to represent the district, thought it would be best to have Patton at next week’s meeting to explain.

Hawkins said “… the school district will pay for the audit.”

Hargrove, Vincent and then-commissioner Jerry Hefner signed a trust indenture authorizing the trust in 2008, then named themselves trustees to make decisions for the trust authority.

The purpose of the trust authority was to build educational facilities “in or near” Wagoner County, according to records retained in the office of the county clerk.

The trust is authorized to issue lease revenue notes not to exceed $26 million for the Bixby project.

The multi-million dollar facility for which Wagoner County signed a financing agreement with the Bixby Independent School District is being built east of 121st Street and Sheridan in Tulsa, 11 miles from the Bixby School boundaries in Wagoner County.

That district has 20 square miles within Wagoner County, but at press time, it could not be confirmed how many – if any – children living in Wagoner County attend the school.