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Tribe aids Tulsa County projects

Tribe aids Tulsa County projects

by: KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
10/13/2009 4:47:26 AM

In the past six years, the Cherokee Nation has provided Tulsa County with $754,235 in materials for road work.

The money, which all went for projects in District 1, is more than what the county provides the district for road materials in two years.

So District 1 County Commissioner John Smaligo sees the arrangement as a win-win for everyone involved.

"It's a way to provide better service for the taxpayer, both tribal and nontribal residents in the district," said Smaligo.

The program is simple: The Cherokee Nation provides the materials, and the county does the work.

That means the cost of the project usually ends up being split about 50-50, said County Engineer Ray Jordan. An additional benefit is that the work is completed earlier than usual, Jordan said.

"We've gained (nearly) $800,000 that we would not have had if we hadn't entered into those agreements," Jordan said. "And by the same token, the tribe gets some benefit for their citizens who use those facilities."

Buel Anglen, a tribal representative for the Cherokee Nation, said the tribe's roads program began at least a decade ago and has resulted in joint projects in all 14 Oklahoma counties where the tribe has jurisdiction

In fiscal year 2009, the tribe provided $2.76 million in materials for nearly 49 miles of road projects in the counties, Anglen said.

"It's to help the counties and the small towns that just don't have the revenue or tax base to get a road repaired or fixed," he said.

Anglen said the Cherokee Nation funds its portion of the roads program primarily through the tribe's vehicle tag tax, with some state and federal funds used.

The tribe's criteria for determining which road to improve boils down to the Cherokee Nation population in the area and road's benefit to that population.

But it is not the only criteria, Anglen said.

"This roads program has benefited everybody, Indians and non-Indians," he said.

Smaligo said the county's criteria is even simpler.

"It's needs-based," Smaligo said. "All of these projects were in dire need of being addressed."

The county has about 725 miles of roadway, 315 of which are in District 1.

Jordan said the county has discussed with the Creek (Muscogee) Nation the possibility of doing joint road projects in Districts 2 and 3. However, no work is planned yet.

The Cherokee Nation has committed $274,534 in materials for two projects, including repaving three miles of 186th Street north of Skiatook. The jobs are set to be complete by the end of 2009.

Smaligo said each district in the county is allocated about $300,000 a year for materials to repair roads.

"We get to do three miles that would have taken up a year's worth of our (road materials) budget," he said.

Kevin Canfield 581-8313

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