Story by Wayne Greene found on TulsaWorld.com
Oklahoma needs to plan for rainy days – and the tornadic, icy and drought-ravaged ones as well, city and state emergency management leaders say.
For years, Oklahoma’s Emergency Fund has built up a mounting pile of unpaid bills, leaving local government agencies holding the bag – sometimes for millions of dollars.
The emergency fund is used to pay one-eighth of certain government costs for dealing with disasters that have federal approval for assistance. The federal government picks up 75 percent of the cost.
But during recent tough economic years, which coincided with a lot of costly disasters, the Oklahoma Legislature didn’t appropriate enough money to pay off the state’s share. So local government agencies – including cities, towns, counties, public utilities and rural water districts – just had to wait for their reimbursements.
After prodding by Gov. Mary Fallin, the Legislature approved a $34.1 million supplemental appropriation earlier this year, which was enough to pay off all the bills, some of which went all the way back to 2007.
But Bixby City Manager Doug Enevoldsen says the Legislature should be doing more. The state should be thinking ahead because another disaster will occur sooner or later.
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