By Jeff Shultz
The Garvin County Election Board met Friday morning to certify signatures on a citizen petition request for a special audit of the City of Pauls Valley.
According to Garvin County Election Board Secretary Gayla Dean, 374 petition signatures were delivered to her office by the state auditor.
Dean said she and her assistant, Holly Levis, verified the signatures using state election board information.
Of the 374 petitions, 317 signatures were validated and certified, and the remaining 57 were deemed invalid. According to the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office, 304 valid signatures are needed to request the audit.
The petition is asking the auditor’s office to conduct a special audit into records and events related to the October 2018 closure of Pauls Valley’s hospital.
The petition lists eight specific areas of concern, occurring between 2015 and 2020, to be examined. They include:
•Determining if financing arrangements (revenue note, loans, etc. and their associated collateral) including a $500,000 loan made to Southern Plains, have been properly managed.
•Determining if sales tax revenue has been used according to its designated purposes.
•Evaluating the recall petition process and related communications and results.
•Reviewing contracts, lease agreements, and bid processes of the hospital facility and the ambulance service.
•Determining if the city has failed to pay wages and related benefits to former hospital employees.
•Reviewing the city’s management/relationship with nursing home facilities across the state of Oklahoma.
•Reviewing possible violations of the Open Meeting Act and the Open Records Act.
•Reviewing payments to selected personnel (contract labor, legal services, etc.)
The State Auditor and Inspector’s office has estimated the audit will cost the city between $40,000 and $80,000. That cost is based on estimated audit hours and travel expenses.
Dean said the next step is to send the certified petitions and her findings back to the state auditor’s office.