The Norman Transcript

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December 22, 2012

County’s legal bill approaches $70K

NORMAN — Cleveland County commissioners voted Thursday to pay a Washington, D.C., tax attorney, about $65,000, for representing the commissioners as they await results of an Internal Revenue Service audit, in the works since last February.

“In the end, this could be money well spent,” Commissioner Rod Cleveland said recently. Cleveland confirmed Thursday that the county has not received word from the IRS regarding the status of the audit and when it will be completed.

Commissioners, meeting as trustees of the Cleveland County Justice Authority, approved tax attorney Brad Waterman’s $65,256 invoice without any discussion. On Nov. 19, the trustees approved a payment of $4,280 for Waterman’s work from July 1 to August 31, 2012.

Waterman is considered a tax expert in dealing with the IRS. Waterman told The Transcript that he has been representing “folks across the country in connection with the IRS for nearly 36 years.”

County officials have been reluctant to discuss financing for the new jail at U.S. 77 and Franklin Road until the IRS audit is completed.

Meanwhile, a separate audit of the $52 million bond issue passed by voters in 2008 indicates that the money can be accounted for. This annual audit was done by a private firm hired by the state to review Cleveland County Justice Authority expenditures as required by bond indentures.

The state commissioned the private firm, Rahhal Henderson Johnson, Certified Public Accountants of Ardmore.

Their report accepted by the trust authority in November shows that nearly $19 million in bond proceeds is being held in reserve, due in part because sales tax revenues to pay for the bonds have surpassed estimates. In 2008, county voters approved a one-fourth cent sales tax to generate revenue to pay off the bonds. That tax is generating more than $500,000 per month. Commissioners have pledged to remove the tax once the jail is paid off.

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