Jazz Hall Calls Overdue Tulsa County Bills 'Misunderstanding'

Friday, September 7th 2012, 5:58 pm

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame is facing a deadline to either pay some overdue bills or get kicked out of its building at the Union Depot.

The Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame started 25 years ago as both an archive of music history and a way to keep Oklahoma jazz alive.

But like the organization has faltered financially, and it now faces $60,000 in overdue bills for basics like electricity and taxes.

"We're bent on making it self sustaining and we're pretty close to it right now," the hall's chairman Jeff Kos said.

The chairman of the board for the Jazz Hall announced the start of a concert fundraiser to help the Jazz Hall, but explains the overdue tax bill, an assessment for the ballpark, this way: "It's a misunderstanding as far as when the bills are being paid and when they're sent over."

Tulsa County, the Jazz Hall's landlord, says it's a serious breach of contract.

"When a private organization like this falls behind on their electric bills, several months totaling $35,000, it's a little more than a misunderstanding, it's a pretty clear breach of the contract," Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo said.

Tulsa County owns the building, but the Jazz Hall is supposed to pay for utilities and upkeep.

The county has given the hall 30 days to get caught up.

"The Jazz Hall of Fame has allowed this to go on far too long, far too many times, and I think they need to generate the income to pay their bills that they owe and have incurred, or we need to be looking at what our options are," Smaligo said.

Reporter: "Can you pay your bills and keep going?"

Kos: "Yes. I have no doubt about the future of the organization."

The Jazz Hall leadership is confident its new fundraising efforts will pay off, so it will be able to stay in the Union Depot and eventually become self-sustaining.