County refund checks taken back

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 5:57 pm
By: News 9

By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9

MEDFORD, Okla. -- Several Oklahoma counties are in a financial bind after receiving huge refund checks from the state.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission sent the refund checks, but came back and said there was an error. Some of the counties have already started spending the money.

Several counties got the payouts ranging from $7,000 to more than $1 million. All have to pay back the money.

The largest chunk of the money, more than $1 million went to Grant County. A good portion of that money is already spent.

The city of Medford in Grant County got more than $180,000 from the sales tax refund. Medford City Manager Dea Kretchmar said that money was used to make loan payments on a new building for fire and ambulance services.

"Oh, everyone was just so excited; what a great benefit to the fire and ambulance departments," Kretchmar said.

The sheriff's department and several rural fire departments received more than $90,000 each.

Penny Dowell is the Grant County treasurer. He is worried about the money refund problem.

"Oh no," Dowell said. "What are we going to do? It's going to impact our department for years to come."

Dowell said the county was told the tax refund came from the sale of a gas company. They have since learned there was no sale, but a merger.

The City of Medford said having to pay back the money will not limit fire or ambulance services, but there won't be extra money.

A city meeting has been called for Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss options for repaying the money. The meeting will be held in the fire and ambulance building.