Tornado cleanup challenges budget and staff

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June 8, 2011

Each month the Oklahoma Tax Commission sends “Highway Cash” to Logan County for the purpose of maintaining roads and bridges.

This money from fuel tax, gross production tax and motor vehicle fees is divided between the three commission districts and appropriated into various accounts to cover costs for equipment, personnel and road maintenance.

Every month we eagerly analyze how much each district will receive for maintenance and operations, or “M&O.”

That is because the amount we receive in this account determines whether we will be able to purchase fuel, rock, asphalt, signs and other products needed for maintaining roads.

M&O money can vary greatly from month to month. We may receive $40,000 one month and $10,000 the next.

The amount each commissioner receives for M&O is determined partly by how much he allocates to each expense account within his own district budget, but primarily by how much the Tax Commission sends.

A monthly breakdown of each district’s Highway Cash is posted under the Budget link at

Most recently, District 1 received slightly over $13,000 for maintenance and operations. Surviving the month on that amount is a challenge, even when there are no complications from Oklahoma weather. Fuel alone costs thousands per month.

Not only did the recent tornado exact a toll on lives and property, but it placed an additional burden on county resources and district budgets, as workers diverted from performing routine maintenance to engage in debris removal on roadways.

Photos of conditions District 1 faced are posted at

After so many weather-related events in Oklahoma, including wildfire, floods and ice storms, we have learned to rapidly assess and document damage in order to recover costs through FEMA.

Sometimes reimbursement comes months down the road, but our goal is to help the county as much as possible.

The May 24 tornado delivered one more challenge, and we, along with many others, are facing it as best we can.

Mark Sharpton is the Logan County Commissioner for District 1.


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