Insurance decision tabled after challenge

Robert Smith

The Pawhuska City Council on June 11 tabled a decision about municipal property insurance coverage after representatives of the Tolson Agency challenged the process that city government used to prepare for the decision, pointing out they had not been afforded an opportunity to bid.

Steve Tolson, Jeff Phillippi and Strat Tolson attended the council’s meeting on behalf of the Tolson Agency. Steve Tolson said the agency became aware Friday, June 7, of the council’s agenda item regarding a proposed change of property insurance coverage. He said that he would like to obtain answers about the coverage change being brought to the council without talking to the Tolson Agency and giving it a chance to bid.

City Manager Larry Eulert said the Tolson Agency had sent the city a bill for property insurance coverage and city government had assumed that was the agency’s best price.

The proposal on the city council’s agenda the evening of June 11 was to shift municipal property coverage to the Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group, or OMAG, from United Insurance Co.

“I think the council should support local business,” Steve Tolson said, adding that the people of Pawhuska are partners in the community.

“That was a key concern that we had, that we were not given the opportunity,” Strat Tolson said. “Our family has been here a long time. We’ve had a very good relationship with the city of Pawhuska.”

Strat Tolson recalled for members of the council that he had been instrumentally involved in helping to get the municipal fire protection rating from state of Oklahoma lowered from 6 to 4, thereby saving residential and business insurance customers thousands of dollars. He also recalled for the council that the Tolsons took an interest in the safety of Pawhuska police officers and made sure there were rifles in city police cars so the officers would be armed well enough to respond appropriately if they faced a threat of force too great to be handled by sidearms.

Mayor Roger Taylor thanked Strat Tolson for his family’s contributions to the well-being of Pawhuska.

Randy Stone, of OMAG, clarified for the council that his organization is not a commercial insurance provider, but a pool of more than 430 cities. Stone said about 30 percent of the insurance business that OMAG quotes is through local agencies. He added that OMAG would have no problem with the city of Pawhuska reopening the bid process for its municipal property insurance rather than making an immediate decision.