Rep. Turner Wants to Maximize Municipal Taxpayer Savings

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Contact: State Rep. Mike Turner
Office: (405) 557-7357

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Mike Turner said that after talking to the state bond advisor, he has learned that there are municipalities in Oklahoma that are paying 10 times the amount what they should be paying on bond issues.

“We don’t want to end up like Alabama, where the state is paying to bail Birmingham out of the fiscal mess they are in because of poor decisions regarding the use of bonds,” said Turner, R-Oklahoma City. “I know that bonds are sometimes considered a dirty word in conservative circles, but I do think they can be appropriate when used correctly. After learning about this problem, I am going to work with several individuals to see how we can improve the ability of municipalities to get better rates than the ones many are receiving.”

Turner said he was pleased to learn that the state bond advisor James Joseph has been very proactive in examining state bonds and ensuring Oklahoma taxpayers get the best return on bonds. On the other hand, the state bond advisor said municipalities often fail to reexamine bonds and when they do, often fail to get the best terms that are available.

“When communities leverage their bonding power together in the form of say, a bond bank, they can get better rates,” said Turner. “I want to work with Representative Charles McCall from Atoka to explore solutions to municipal financing difficulties to create greater inroads for those entities to form closer relationships with one another in the interest of achieving lower fees, lower yields and lower set up costs. I think there are tremendous opportunities for smaller municipalities to get access to markets they never dreamed possible and achieve incredible savings for taxpayers.”

Turner pointed to a bond for a Cleveland County jail that has recently attracted attention because of the poor oversight that has led to a poor deal for taxpayers.

“There are basically examples in which the rates that taxpayers are receiving effectively equate to getting fleeced,” said Turner. “There are cases around the country of the Securities and Exchange Commission and IRS having to step in and examine these bond agreements.”

Turner said the current, “phenomenal yield environment” represents an opportunity not just to improve bond agreements but to discuss usage of bonds for public infrastructure projects.