Official: Process ignored

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

For the second time within the past month, District 2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay commented Monday on his desire to see Osage County authorities crack down on the failure of entities installing utility lines in county roadside rights-of-way to make application for utility permits.

Paslay on Monday singled out a recent situation in which Skiatook city government failed to apply for a permit before it installed an electric line in a county right-of-way near a county operations yard.

“This particular one happened right close to our yard in Skiatook,” Paslay said. “Had we not asked about it, we never would have known it was there.”

He has couched his concern about the issue in terms of the safety of county workers.

In an interview following the meeting Monday, Paslay told the Journal-Capital that he attributed the Skiatook situation to forgetfulness, not malice. He said the Skiatook department head in charge of the placement of the electric line immediately filled out a utility permit application as soon as he became aware of the oversight. Paslay is a former Skiatook city councilor.

Paslay also said he thinks the county commissioners should redraft the permit application. The current application is not sufficiently detailed, he indicated.

He also clarified that municipalities are not the primary offenders when it comes to failing to file the necessary permit application before burying utility lines in county rights of way. He cited AT&T as a prime offender.

“AT&T is a big problem for us,” Paslay said, explaining the company appears not to take the permit process seriously.

District 3 Commissioner Darren McKinney also commented Monday about his view of AT&T.

“They don’t think they need to call or ask or anything,” he said.

During the commissioners’ meeting Monday, Paslay said the county generally waives any fee for the issuance of a utility permit, but he thinks the county should start charging.

“I think we need to be serious about this deal,” he said. “I talked to our D.A. and we’re going after these people. My intention is to go ahead and do this.”

The commissioners also briefly discussed the potential need for someone to be placed in charge of keeping up with the installation of utility lines in county rights-of-way, and to act as a sort of inspector.

District Attorney Rex Duncan on Monday told the commissioners that he thinks they need to hold an executive session if they want to discuss potential options regarding the utility permit issue.