Small Town News

Economy

County Budget Board Meet

Stillwater Journal of Stillwater, Oklahoma

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The Payne County Budget Board last week addressed several issues including ongoing parking problems around the county courthouse and administration building and a county policy on Unmanned Aerial Systems or UAS.

Board members discussed the during the special meeting Friday the problem of having adequate parking space for county employees as well as those attorneys and other individuals who are doing business at the courthouse.

"This has been an issue for 10-plus years," said Sheriff RB.Hauf.

Assessor James Cowan said several of Hauf's deputies have to park several blocks away and walk to work due to the lack of parking spaces.

"I know R J3 has guys that walk two blocks to their vehicles parked down the street," Cowan said. "We are fortunate right now that the City of Stillwater hasn't come around and started ticketing this area. If this area starts to grow they are going to have more (parking issues)."

Board members discussed the feasibility of purchasing two adjacent properties to the courthouse and administration building for additional parking spaces. Those properties include Mitchell Motors and Strode Funeral Home.

District 2 Commissioner Chris Reding offered to talk with the owner of Mitchell Motors to gauge his interest in potentially selling to the county.

Hauf said the county would likely have to build a parking garage to meet future parking growth and that would be costly.

He said even if a parking structure wouldn't be built for a while, it would benefit the county to have that adjacent property.

"If the county could negotiate with Mitchell Motors and purchase that property at a fair price it would behoove the county to do so," Hauf said.

In other matters, the budget board discussed the payment of meal claims for sheriff's deputies who worked security at the Payne County Fair.

District 1 Commissioner Zach Cavett previously questioned why the county had paid meal claims for the deputies.

Assistant District Attorney

Lowell Barto researched the matter and said that only travel meal claims could be paid for by the county.

District 3 Commissioner Kent Bradley suggested having the Payne County Fair Board start paying for the meals since it is that entity that has the sheriff's office provide security during the fair.

Hauf said in 2009 and 2010 the Fair Board picked up his full-time deputies overtime from working the fair.

"That (meal tickets) is something the Fair Board to consider if they want to pick up the cost," Hauf said "If not I will get a member of the community who will. I think there are plenty out there that will recognize the importance of us being there for the whole duration of the fair."

The budget board addressed the feasibility of adding more equipment to a small workout gym located in the basement of the county courthouse.

Hauf said although the gym has primarily been used by his deputies he was willing to share it with other county employees who wanted to work out.

Hauf said most of the equipment in the gym was donated or was purchased several years ago. He said that equipment needs to be upgraded.

"The treadmill was donated by my chaplain because it was a clothes rack in his bedroom for several years," Hauf said.

The budget board asked Hauf to look into what type of equipment the gym needed and bring back a list of equipment needs to a future budget board meeting.

A county UAS policy was also discussed with several board members concerned about privacy rights for county residents and the potential of the county getting sued over using a UAS. The matter was tabled until a future date.

"My biggest concern is our citizens and our constituents," said Payne County Clerk Glenna Craig. "If we are sued and a judgement is brought against us that is a levy on the property tax of our citizens. And I don't want to cause them any financial hardship because we didn't have a policy in place and we got sued."

Craig asked Hauf what kind of policy he would like the county to have.

"I don't know that we can write a policy however in depth you want it to be," Hauf said. "It will change next week."

Hauf suggested adopting the latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAS policy which is stated on its federal website.

The UAS policy was brought up previously after the county used a UAS to take aerial photographs of the county fair.

Craig said she didn't think it was appropriate to take photos of citizens who didn't give their permission to be photographed.

Bradley said he was concerned about resident's privacy and said he didn't want any UAS flying over his property.

Hauf said there are restrictions on how his department and Payne County Emergency Management can utilize their respective UAS.'

"Does the public think that we are going to fly this door to door to try and generate arrests," Hauf asked? "That is already against the law. I think a lot of the uproar is really unwarranted because it is really limited of what we can do with them"



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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015



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