Hidden dangers: Drivers urged to be cautious on county roads and bridges

Clay Burtrum took this photo on Richmond Road near Highway 108. 

The Payne County Budget Board at its regular monthly meeting on Monday approved using up to $500,000 from the County contingency fund to be used for emergency road repairs for damages caused by the recent flooding. Those funds will be split equally between District 1 and District 3. District 2 does not have any county roads within its district.

County Assessor James Cowan noted that the contingency fund had a balance of approximately $6.3 million and that $4.33 million was needed for carryover. Chairman Chris Reding said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was adopting new disaster reimbursement procedures, effective next Friday. FEMA will have persons present to certify the completion of a project and will immediately start the reimbursement process. When the federal funds arrive, the proceeds will be placed back in the contingency fund.

• In other business, the Budget Board adopted a new travel policy that was developed and presented by the Payne County Commissioners. The new policy eliminates reimbursement at the per diem rate for meals incurred while traveling. Actual detailed meal tickets or receipts will be required for reimbursement. Meals can only be reimbursed up to the accepted GSA meals and incidentals rate for the destination of travel. Reding noted that the meal reimbursement policy was prepared so that county officials and employees would be good stewards of taxpayer funds.

The following Air Travel provision was approved by the board:

"Air Travel – It shall be the responsibility and duty of each employee and elected official to seek the most cost-effective airfare with the intent of obtaining the lowest available fares. All air travel by employees and elected officials shall be purchased in the 'Economy' or 'Coach' section of the aircraft. At no time will 'First Class' or 'Business Class' airfare be purchased for the transportation needs of any employee or elected official. Should an employee or elected official opt for seating upgrades it shall be the responsibility of the employee or elected official to utilize their own funds for the upgrade. Upgrades will not be paid for with County funds for any reason. The only exception will be for the transportation of prisoner by transport deputies, with proper documentation including the case number."

The new travel policy provides that purchases made by the Sheriff’s Office using a credit card are not exempt from the provisions of the new policy.

• Clorisa Brown with the Central Oklahoma Economic Development District gave Budget Board members a survey for a long-range transportation plan. Brown has mapped existing roads in Payne County and is working on a Payne County long-range plan for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation. Brown is requesting that the survey be completed and returned to her by June 20. Reding said that all county employees would be provided the survey and asked to complete it by the deadline. The survey includes questions for modes of travel, importance of improvements, factors to prioritize in transportation projects and locations where there are traffic or transportation problems. Anyone interested in having input on future road projects in Payne County may access and complete the survey online at www.coedd.net/lrtp-s.html.