POSTED ON JUNE 15, 2011:
Tax Ruling Appealed
State officials have decided to appeal a recent court ruling by an Oklahoma City judge that struck down a provision in a law adopted last year that requires municipalities to contract with the state Tax Commission to collect their share of sales tax receipts.
Terry Simonson, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s chief of staff, said city officials received word from the state two weeks ago that they would challenge the ruling with an accelerated appeal, meaning the issue could be decided in six months instead of a year.
The city of Tulsa was the plaintiff in the case and has been seeking the right to farm out its sales tax collection efforts to a third party for the past two years, arguing an outside firm could do the job cheaper and more efficiently than the Tax Commission. Simonson said he and other city officials met with representatives of Gov. Mary Fallin in an effort to convince the governor not to appeal the ruling in the city's favor, but the state has decided otherwise.
Simonson said he was disappointed in the state's decision but is optimistic the city will prevail on appeal, citing a thorough, 23-page opinion issued by Judge Bill Graves explaining his ruling.
"Our hope is the Supreme Court will not find any flaws or misapplication of law and uphold his decision," he said.
Simonson also hailed the passage of Senate Bill 750 during the recent legislative session, a measure that allows municipalities to contract with outside firms to assist the state Tax Commission in the collection of sales tax receipts. He said state Treasurer Preston Doerflinger is heading a task force that will develop a plan for implementation of the law's specifics by Sept. 30.
A variety of law enforcement officials and elected officials will gather at the Tulsa Convention Center Friday, June 17 for the Tulsa City Council Meth Summit, an event put together by Councilors Chris Trail and Rick Westcott.
The event runs from 9am through noon and features appearances by Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr., District Attorney Tim Harris, state Rep. Doug Cox, state Rep. Sue Tibbs and Darrell Weaver, executive director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. The event is intended to raise awareness of the methamphetamine problem in northeast Oklahoma.
Trail said he was motivated to organize the summit because meth production is a problem in his District 5, though he noted meth production rapidly is becoming an issue across the city.
"It's accelerating, and we are known as the meth capital of Oklahoma," Trail said of Tulsa. "So I met with Tim Harris about it, and he has a passion for (fighting the problem). I just wanted to do something."
Trail said representatives of other communities in the area have been invited and are expected to attend. He hopes the meth summit leads to more cooperation between the city and the county on a variety of fronts in the future.
"This isn't a Tulsa problem, it's a region problem," he said.
The event is free and open to the public. It takes place in the third-floor meeting rooms at the convention center adjacent to the BOK Center. Attendees may pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (918) 596-1978. They also may register at the event beginning at 8:30am.
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