Osage County commissioners voted 3-0 Monday to share the cost with Hominy of a telephone system upgrade that will allow the city to transfer to the county emergency calls made to non-emergency numbers in the city.


Hominy City Manager Jimmie Ratliff II said the full cost of the phone upgrade will be $3,795.58. The city asked the commissioners if they would help by paying half, or $1,897.79. The commissioners were skeptical of being drawn into the project but ultimately agreed to help.


“Are you not able to pay the full amount?” District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney said.


Ratliff said the money wasn’t accounted for in the most recent Hominy budget and municipal officials would have to look for a source of funding in their own finances if they were to pay the full amount.


The city manager also acknowledged that Hominy’s emergency medical service is in pretty good financial shape.


“We are pretty good in our funding for our EMS,” Ratliff said. “We do stay in the black there.”


“You understand that if you were not able to pay, this would be a totally different deal,” McKinney said. “Don’t get me wrong — this is for a good cause. We have to look out for the county, too; first and foremost, we have to look out for the county.”


District 1 Commissioner Randall Jones also expressed concern about the county being drawn into the financing of municipal projects that city governments may be able to manage financially on their own.


“It is a slippery slope,” Jones said, explaining he shared McKinney’s concern about the county’s finances. “We’re trying to stop the bleeding.”


Ratliff told the commissioners the expense with which he was asking help is a one-time payment. He also pointed out that Hominy is looking to transfer its EMS dispatching to the county.


District 2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay praised the city of Hominy’s work in the area of emergency medical service and added that he had no problem voting in favor of the requested cost-share.


Ratliff said that over and beyond the project he had outlined to the commissioners, the city plans to spend an additional $800 for a further phone-service upgrade.


District Attorney Mike Fisher said the county would need to enter into an interlocal agreement with Hominy in order to provide the requested $1,897.79. Fisher said the Hominy city attorney will need to draw up the interlocal agreement.


Paslay made the motion to approve helping Hominy. Jones seconded it.