Tulsa County, City Reach Deal On Outstanding Fairgrounds Utility Bill

Wednesday, August 18th 2010, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA COUNTY -- Tulsa County and City of Tulsa reached a deal on an outstanding utility bill for the fairgrounds, settling the biggest issue that came out the annexation of the property.

An empty pond on a corner of the fairgrounds earned Tulsa County a nearly half million dollar credit on their utility bill. It's a stormwater retention pond built in 2004. 

By slowing down runoff from the fairgrounds, it helps prevent flooding in surrounding neighborhoods. And that's why the city forgave a long overdue stormwater bill the county wouldn't pay.

"Through this review, we've had that rate reduced based on the investment we've made at Expo Square, that ultimately benefited the City of Tulsa," said John Smaligo, Tulsa County Commissioner.

The city has always provided water and sewer for the fairgrounds, but an unwanted annexation by the city created a dispute over stormwater and trash fees. The city council turned down a negotiated partial payment of the bill, so the county appealed and got credit for more than they owe.

The county owed $301,000, but got a credit of $448,000. In the future, the county will pay $13,000 a month for stormwater.

"I don't think we had to give them all that much credit for the money that they owed us," said Bill Christiansen, Tulsa City Councilor.

Christiansen questions the new deal for the county, which doesn't require the approval of the council.

"Without knowing the details, I can't be too critical at this point, but on the surface, I'm disappointed they did what they did," said Christiansen.

But Commissioner Smaligo thinks it's a fair deal for city and county taxpayers and settles all the issues that came out of the annexation.

"We get credit for the investment we made ultimately into the city's stormwater management system and as long as we're getting credit for that, I think our board is ready to move forward past the issues created by the city's annexation of the fairgrounds," said Smaligo.

The county will pay separately for water, based on how much they use. Another dispute over the annexation ended in a stalemate. The county insisted the city should provide police for the State Fair. The city refused and the county used the sheriff's office, which was the practice before the annexation.

8/17/2010  Related Story: Dispute Over Outstanding Fees Settled Between City Of Tulsa And County