Settlement To Free Up $65 Million For Schools

Wednesday, July 11th 2007, 2:28 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- State officials reached a settlement on Wednesday with AT&T in a property tax protest case that will free up $65 million, with most of the money going to schools.

The state Equalization Board voted 6-0 to accept the settlement after a brief executive session.

Gov. Brad Henry, chairman of the board, said the accord is "in the best interests of the state of Oklahoma and education, which receives this money."

"It would be years for schools to get this money without a settlement," Henry said.

The telecommunications company, formerly known as Southwestern Bell and SBC, had protested their property tax assessments for 2005 and 2006.

The protest has tied up more than $30 million in tax money that goes to public schools, vo-tech centers and counties.

The settlement covers those years, plus 2007, Henry said.

State Treasurer Scott Meacham said the agreement means $65.5 million in tax money will soon be released, with most of the money distributed by the state Department of Education to schools.

Henry said the two sides are still in disagreement on whether software is subject to property taxes and that issue will go to the courts to decide.