From Muskogee County Commissioner Ken Doke
Yesterday marked the dawning of a new day for Muskogee County. For a number of years now, the county has been operating in the red with deficit budgets. In fact, between 2010 and 2015, the county spent $2,252,441 more than it brought in revenue. Beginning in 2015, the board of county commissioners set out to fix this problem. We began creating new policies and committed to fixing the county's budget woes.
In 2016, commissioners passed a balanced budget that was designed to end deficit spending. For the first time in years, we finished the year with no RED numbers. In fact, Muskogee County ended the year with a surplus balance of $1.2 Million. With a $1.2 Million carry-over balance, we were able to start this NEW fiscal year with the largest budget in Muskogee County history.
Having better managed our funds, we found ourselves in a position to do some things that were long overdue. We are going to put a new roof and replace the HVAC at the courthouse. We are going to be able to pay for these enormous costs out of our budget rather than asking for tax payers to pass a bond. We plan to help Sheriff Rob Frazier purchase new patrol cars. We set aside funds for District Attorney, Orvil Loge to hire a civil attorney to help with his case load for the next year. We allocated monies to the volunteers of the Sheriff's patrol so that they could purchase new equipment.
The OSU Extension had suffered severe state budget cuts, and was at risk of having to cut staff and programs to our area youth. Muskogee County was able to step up and provide the needed funding to keep that agency alive, and continue providing agricultural training and programs to students throughout Muskogee County.
I would like to say thank you to the rest of our commissioner board and to our elected officials throughout the county who bought into the vision; came together; and made the necessary sacrifices to put the county back on the road to success. It is nice to be looking ahead and proactively fixing our problems now compared to where we were just a year or two ago.
Note: In 2014, Doke became the first Republican to be elected as a County Commissioner in Muskogee County. Balancing the budget has been one of the things he's pushed for while in office, and I believe this wouldn't have happened without his efforts.