BatesLine: Tulsa County Excise Board Rubber-stamping Property Tax Hikes

  • Joe Wertz

Tulsa blogger Michael Bates has a follow-up to last week’s Tulsa County Excise Board meeting, which was upended when a member questioned the purpose of the board’s existence.

Bates writes:

The excise board is supposed to analyze the request and determine its validity before approving it, but according to (Tulsa County Assessor Ken) Yazel, the Tulsa County Excise Board has been rubber-stamping requests, resulting in a property tax increase for all Tulsa County property owners once again this year, without any vote of the people.

According to Bates, the City of Tulsa’s property tax increase request includes the final payment of the Great Plains Airlines settlement, which was thrown out by the Oklahoma Supreme Court a week prior. Yazel pointed this out to the board at the Oct. 19 meeting, Bates writes, but the board approved the request without any amendments.

Board member Ted Kachel made a motion to delay the decision, and questioned the Excise Board’s authority.

“Why have an Excise Board in place if we don’t have some say about the amount of taxes people are paying?” Kachel asked, according to a Tulsa World report. “I just don’t understand why we have this meeting at all.”

The Excise Board sets millage rates — a tax rate applied to net assessed property value — each year. The board eventually voted 2-1 to approve the new millage rates, but Kachel questioned whether the board had the right to adjust fixed levies approved by voters.

The board’s Fiscal Officer, Jim Smith, said he didn’t think the board could change a rate determined by a vote of the people, but deffered to Tulsa County Assistant Distruct Attorney Andrea Wyrick, the World wrote.

Wyrick’s first reaction, according to the World: “The board did not have such power.”