25 January 2005
Oklahoma County Commissioner Stan Inman is pushing for a vote this week on his proposal to eliminate the county's Budget Board, which consists of the three commissioners and the county's five other elected officials.
In his proposal, Inman pointed out several instances where the Board, he said, either exceeded its authority or acted ineptly.
Commissioner Jim Roth has suggested a home-rule ballot as an alternative: "We're still operating with an 1890 model, and if we disband the budget board, we get even closer to 1890."
And Treasurer Butch Freeman pointed out that most property-tax payments are made in the middle of the county's fiscal year, which leaves the till comparatively empty in the spring. A county lacking a budget board, he says, would have to borrow from banks to cover any shortages.
Is Inman truly unhappy with the Board's performance? Maybe. I think, though, what really has his BVDs knotted is the Board's vote last Thursday to support the addition of sexual orientation to the county's official non-discrimination policy. Jim Nimmo, who attended the Thursday session, is a bit blunter:
It appears there will be another showdown with the County Government this Wednesday, as Rinehart and Inman dissolve the Budget Board, the very device of their downfall. Is this revenge and retribution, or pretending to be an old-testament god masquerading as good government?
As I understand things, dissolution of the Board would not invalidate the nondiscrimination policy, nor would a 2-1 Commissioner vote be sufficient to establish personnel policies under state law.
And Assessor Leonard Sullivan, hardly gay-friendly, still won't support Inman and Rinehart. He remembers the county-commissioner scandals of the 1980s:
We had the biggest scandal in the history of the U.S., and we created a budget board to have accountability in county government. This would allow just two people to control the budget and be accountable to nobody. I can't believe taxpayers would stand for this.
Roth's home-rule proposal may look pretty good after all this blows over.