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Differences in City and County Government

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The recent wind storm which damaged so many trees in south Logan County generated several phone calls regarding debris removal. Some who called mentioned that the city removes debris, and they wondered if the county could do the same. We explained that municipal government provides debris removal because those who live within city limits pay a waste management fee. The county does not collect a fee to provide this service.
The authority granted in statute to use county-owned equipment is limited to property owned by the county, with exceptions made for helping out public schools, certain colleges, the state and cities
with limited population. Statutes regarding use of county vehicles do not mention use on private property, even for storm debris removal.
All of this reminded me that the public is often unaware of differences between city and county government. In this article, I would like to address some of the differences.
While cities can enact ordinances, the Board of Commissioners can exercise only the powers specifically granted to them by the legislature.
We do not have authority in regard to animal control, dilapidated houses or private housing additions. These issues can sometimes be addressed through Homeowners Associations and covenants, or, as a last resort, in civil court.
County government does not provide utilities commonly supplied by incorporated cities, such as electricity, water, sewer, garbage pickup, or natural gas. Rural water districts and rural electric
cooperatives provide these utilities.
County government does not provide public school services like kindergarten through twelfth grade or career technology training. County government does not provide local police service commonly found
in incorporated towns and cities. However, the county sheriff does provide law enforcement in rural areas and some very small towns that do not have a police force. And, counties do not typically provide
public parks and recreational facilities. These are not a function of county government.
And, finally, there is a huge difference between city versus county budgets. A quick call this week to the City of Edmond indicated a budget of over $215 million. According to an Aug. 13 article in the Guthrie News Leader, the City of Guthrie has a budget of approximately $18 million. The budget for Logan County is slightly over $4 million.
The county budget does not include funding for roads. Road money comes from fuel tax and vehicle fees collected and disbursed by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. The average amount each road district receives yearly is less than $300,000. This is subdivided to pay for equipment, employees, etc., leaving each district about $34,000 per month for road maintenance. With that, we maintain 1205 collective miles throughout the county.
Dr. Notie Lansford, an OSU County Training Program instructor, sums it up pretty well…”Given the numerous public services provided by many government or quasi-government organizations, it is not surprising that there is sometimes confusion as to what county government does and does not provide.”
More information about the role of Logan County Government can be found at http://bit.ly/qUsuEO. And as always, I am happy to answer your questions at 282.3581.
Mark Sharpton
District 1

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