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Oklahoma County officials file Supreme Court lawsuit

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Four elected Oklahoma County officials went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court Friday in their battle with county commissioners over control a $53 million general fund budget.

A lawsuit filed by the officials contends county commissioners are not authorized by state law to create an office of budget management to write the county budget and do other work.

The suit seeks an order preventing the three-member Board of County Commissioners from using public funds for the new budget agency, which would replace the current budget board made up of eight-elected officials.

It was filed by County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, Treasurer Butch Freeman, Clerk Carolynn Caudill and Court Clerk Patricia Presley.

Ray Vaughn, attorney for the group, said it is essential that the case be decided before July 1, when the current board would cease to exist under an edict of the county commissioners.

Vaughn said if the Oklahoma County commissioners are allowed to take actions not authorized by state law, it will have statewide ramifications.

Commissioners voted 2-1 in January to disband the current board and replace it with the new agency.

Sullivan said the move will create ``total chaos'' in county government.

Commissioner Stan Inman, who proposed the new agency, said Thursday he intends to hire a budget director, even though the elected officials have refused to transfer money to pay benefits for the position.

Inman's stand has been supported by Commissioner Brent Rinehart, while Commissioner Jim Roth opposes the move.

Caudill said hiring an outside accounting firm would be ``an entire waste of time'' and she would allow commissioners to delegate her duties to someone else.

Inman said the new office would not eliminate statutory duties of any elected official.
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