The Edmond Sun

Opinion

August 26, 2013

Local government to benefit from new well sites

GUTHRIE — I recently have been receiving emails about the increasing number of energy-sector production sites. As you can imagine, seismic testing and deployment of heavy equipment quickly captures the attention of nearby homeowners who worry about the impact of heavy equipment on their roads.

This increased activity has been expected by attentive local policy leaders. For some time now researchers have been raiding area courthouses to sort through public land records and locate drilling opportunities. As far back as 1928 a publication of the Oklahoma Geological Survey opined that “Logan County contains Oklahoma’s deepest oil field ...”

The decreasing cost of technology has finally allowed producers to access previously hard-to-reach local oil and gas resources. The Legislature incentivizes these opportunities by providing producers with significant tax relief from part of the 7 percent severance tax normally assessed, provided they are drilling for those hard-to-reach resources. This combination of technological advance and tax incentive has resulted in the new drilling.

This has created many high-paying jobs and considerably boosted our economy. I think most will agree that the benefits are significant, but some are wondering if their roads will be maintained while drilling occurs. Consider this statement from an email that I received last week: “The huge trucks run up and down in all kinds of weather often rendering the roads impassable. I used to pray for rain; now I don’t. After spending way more time having to maneuver my way home through the rutted and muddy roads, I then have to get a scrub brush and hose and clean all four tire wells. This is a dirty job, but if I don’t, it dries out and the next day my car shakes violently on the highway because the mud makes the tires go out of alignment. After cleaning the tires, I feel like I’m stuck at home because leaving my house is such a hassle. I can’t get out to pick up dinner, go to the gym, go to the store, etc., unless I want to add another extra 30 minutes to the endeavor.”

Commuters want to know that local government has the resources to keep up with the road maintenance.

It is important to note that the tax relief previously mentioned does not decrease the severance taxes paid directly to local governments. It only applies against the severance tax that goes to state government. Both county government highway funds and local schools receive the same substantial and direct funding from severance taxes, regardless of the tax relief. As the energy sector grows, the county and the school district where the growth occurs receives more funding.

The Tax Commission then distributes the money to local governments based on the number of production sites in the county 12 months previous. This means increases in funding to local government trails the actual production by several months. This helps local governments avoid the temptation to spend new money before the impact of new traffic on the roads is realized. In the short-term, local governments are hard pressed to keep up, but in the long-term, these government entities should see an increase in collections of severance tax money. This money should be used to directly maintain the roads affected by the new drilling.

Last year, Oklahoma County received $2,060,769, Logan County received $715,284, the Guthrie school district received $366,495, the Edmond school district received $236,684 and the Deer Creek school district received $41,375 from the severance tax.

This is partly why each Logan County Commission District has a highway fund budget in excess of a million dollars and why each Oklahoma County Commission District highway fund should have about $4 million. This does not count the many thousands of dollars counties receive in real estate transaction fees and revenue from the permits purchased by energy companies. It is likely that county highway funds will continue to grow in the near future and this should provide local officials the resources needed to maintain the energy sector-trafficked roads and to respond to requests from those who live on those roads.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results