By CHRIS EDENS
Bulletin- Rogers County issued a press release Wednesday stating the total amount of the judgment could be $28 million after additional costs and fees that the court has asked to attatch.
Payment of a multi million dollar judgment against Rogers County will go to voters June 26.
County commissioners voted Monday to put a 15 year, 1/3 of a cent sales tax question on the ballot. The money would be used to pay of an estimated $22 million judgment against the county in the Material Services case.
The judgment can be paid off through sales tax or through ad valorem or property taxes. Bond attorneys, Johanning and Byrom gave a report to the board before the decision was made.
Chairman Mike Helm asked what would happen if the judgment was paid off early. Paul Johanning said the additional sales tax would be stopped.
“Let’s say in seven years it’s paid. Once it’s paid, it’s dead. It goes away,” Helm asked?
Johanning said yes it would be dead. He also said the tax could never be used for another purpose.
Material Services was awarded the judgment after an improper publication notice in 2001. The notice announced a meeting where the Material Services property was re-zoned by the county. The re-zoning prohibited the company from mining on the land.
The original verdict in 2009 was for $12.5 million. Interest and attorney fees have almost doubled that amount.
If voters reject the sales tax option, the attorneys said the judgment would have to be paid through property taxes. According to state statutes, property taxes the first year would have to pay off all interest in the judgment the attorneys said. That could result in a huge hit to property owners.
“Everybody has said ad valorem is too burdensome. There’s a lot of interest and it could be a large tax bill,” Johanning said.
Assistant District Attorney David Iski asked Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody to come to the meeting. He said he would have the resolution to her by April 22 to meet the 60 day notice requirement.
Commissioner Kirt Thacker asked if the county would have to pay the cost for the election. There is already a primary election scheduled for June 26.
Dermody said the state was paying for the precinct workers, but the county would have to pay for the extra ballot.
A special authority was formed to oversee the tax collection and payment of the judgment. The three commissioners will serve on the authority.