State audit reveals county bidding issues
9/27/2013 5:19:15 PM
10/15/2014 12:54:16 PM
by Scott Cloud/Newkirk Herald Journal
Kay County Commissioners are accused of violating bidding practices in their handling of road and bridge construction, according to a three year Kay County financial audit released last Thursday.
The audit for 2010-2012 was released by the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office and is available on the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s website.
A special audit into Kay County bidding practices is expected to be released in a few weeks, according to Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.
The results of the special audit will be forwarded to Garfield County District Attorney Mike Fields to determine if criminal prosecution is warranted.
Kay County District Attorney Brian Hermanson assigned the investigation into the county commissioners to Fields, disqualifying himself from the case due to a conflict of interest.
In a published report in the Sunday edition of The Ponca City News, Kay County District One Commissioner Dee Schieber was critical of the audit and state auditor Gary Jones.
At Tuesday’s county meeting, Schieber said in regards to the audit, “It’s just the auditor’s opinion.”
Jones said the commissioners awarded contracts to contractors who did not submit the lowest or best bids.
“The commissioners ignored the statutes,” he said. “They ignored competitive bidding practices that cost the county more money than it should have.”
Jones said that commissioners can award contracts to a bidder that does not submit the lowest bid.
“But they must provide written documentation for their decision,” he said.
Jones said he has heard the argument that commissioners have been bidding projects like this for 30 years.
“Well then they have been breaking the law for 30 years,” he said.
Jones said Monday that Kay County is being treated like any other county in this investigation.
“Our office is always available to counties for assistance,” he said. “The county officials make the final decisions but we provide as much information as we can to help keep them within the confines of the law.”
Jones is a former county commissioner from Comanche County.
District three commissioner Tyson Rowe was not present at Tuesday’s meeting and district two commissioner Jason Shanks was not a commissioner during the years of the audit.