State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, said last week he expects a lawsuit over the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight’s decision to approve $26 million of state lease revenue bonds for a dam project in Tulsa.
The oversight council voted Jan. 26 to seek a legislative resolution acknowledging the revised scope of the bond-financed project, but then reversed its position and approved the bonds at a special session Feb. 9 at the request of the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority.
The bond were authorized by the Legislature in 2009 as the state match to $50 million of federal funds for work on three low-water dams on the Arkansas River. The federal money has not been appropriated, so Tulsa and the River Parks Authority revised the scope to focus only on one dam.
Anderson said the Council Bond Oversight’s decision to not seek legislative intent “opens the door to litigation on this matter.” Article X, Section 16 of the Oklahoma Constitution says all laws authorizing the borrowing of money “shall specify the purpose for which the money is to be used, and the money so borrowed shall be used for no other purpose.”
According to Anderson, the altered scope of the project violates that provision.
“The immediate legal issues raised are whether proper public notice of the meeting was given and whether the change in the use of these funds violates the Oklahoma Constitution and the Legislature’s intent,” he said.
“However, the political question to ask is, what caused the Council of Bond Oversight to reverse the position it unanimously took on this issue?” Anderson added.
Anderson said he doubted the state Legislature would have approved “spending $26 million on a single dam that is not even owned by the state of Oklahoma.”