Ashli Sims, News On 6
TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Oklahoma Supreme Court says Bank of Oklahoma must repay $7.1 million to the city of Tulsa over a 2008 loan settlement between Tulsa and BOK.
The city paid the money to avoid a lawsuit over the now-defunct Great Plains Airlines.
the Great Plains debacle has now spanned a decade and four city administrations. Opponents of the deal and the settlement are claiming victory for taxpayers, others say it still may not be over.
Great Plains took off with coast to coast promises. When it bottomed out, it took taxpayers down with it.
"This loan should never have been made. There's nobody that's on the hook for this," said Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott.
To get the company off the ground, the city backed the fledgling airline for a multi-million dollar Bank of Oklahoma loan back in 2000.
When Great Plains defaulted on its loan, BOK sued the airport trust and later the city to recoup the cash.
In 2008, then-Mayor Kathy Taylor inked a $7-million deal to bring the lawsuits to an end. The city council raised your property taxes to do it, a move Rick Westcott opposed.
Taxpayers cried foul and the Supreme Court agrees.
"What is important is the Supreme Court has ruled that the City of Tulsa has no liability to the Bank of klahoma. And the Bank of Oklahoma has to give taxpayers back $7.1 million"
"I've referred to the opinion of the Supreme Court as a mixed blessing for the city," said attorney Robert Sartin.
Robert Sartin is the attorney representing the city and the airport trust in the lawsuit with BOK. He says the Supreme Court's ruling essentially reinstates the lawsuit against the airport.
"The short term gain that the city will see by receiving the $7.1 million back from the Bank of Oklahoma, may be lost in the larger sense with what happens at the airport," Sartin said.
And don't start looking for a property tax rebate check in the mail anytime soon. The money will likely go into an account to guard against future lawsuits.
"The $7.1 million could be used to pay off judgments in the future and not have to levy citizen's property taxes to pay for those small judgments," Westcott said.
A spokesperson for BOK has not returned phone calls.