Bland contract to receive further consideration

Robert Smith
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

Osage County’s Tourism Oversight Committee was expected this week to revisit its contract renewal recommendation for Kelly Bland, executive director of the county’s tourism promotion program. The committee was scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon, May 11, in Shidler.

Osage County commissioners on April 26 voted 2-1 to conditionally approve a contract renewal for Bland that included language regarding a possible bonus for her, dependent on performance, to be paid out of the increase in county lodging tax receipts. The contract renewal also contained language regarding automatic renewal of the contract.

District 1 Commissioner Randall Jones, who voted against the renewal April 26, had raised a question with the office of the state Auditor and Inspector about the legality of the bonus language.

Assistant District Attorney Ashley Kane, who provides legal advice for the commissioners, explained to the Journal-Capital that the Auditor and Inspector’s office found no legal reason why Osage County couldn’t pay the proposed bonus, but also did not clearly endorse the practice.

Kane said the District Attorney’s Office, in the interest of staying on the safe side of things legally, asked that the Tourism Oversight Committee revisit the contract and consider other options – for example, a straight-up pay increase.

Bland told the Journal-Capital she intended to leave the room when the committee revisited the contract issue, to avoid being involved in any way in the discussion.

Kane also said the Auditor and Inspector’s office objected to the automatic renewal language in the proposed contract. She noted that she disagreed with the office’s reasoning on the issue, but said that language would need to be changed to satisfy the Auditor and Inspector.

The revised contract renewal will need to be reviewed and voted on by the county commissioners.