Pasley wants feedback

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com

District 2 County Commissioner Kevin Paslay said Tuesday he intends to hold public events in southern Osage County to solicit feedback from residents there about renovating or replacing the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.

“I kind of want to keep this in front of everybody,” Paslay said, explaining why he offered comments this week about the courthouse issue.

County commissioners, interested residents and a bond lawyer with Osage County roots engaged in a vigorous discussion a week ago of the future of the courthouse. Jeff Raley, a lawyer with a Norman firm who provided assistance to a committee that in 2016 and 2017 explored the county’s options regarding the courthouse, initiated that discussion by urging county commissioners to consider putting a question on the ballot later this year. Raley said he thought the commissioners should consider seeking voter approval for a half-cent of sales tax over 20 years.

In a brief conversation with the Journal-Capital after the meeting Tuesday, Paslay said he thinks voters in his district will likely play the deciding role in any attempt to gain voter approval for money to renovate or replace the existing county administrative and judicial structure.

Skiatook is the primary population center in District 2 and leaders there have stressed to county officials that voters in their community take a dim view of additional sales tax as a means of paying for courthouse improvement or replacement.

Following the November 2018 elections, Paslay, who was county board chairman at the time, expressed an interest in revisiting the possibility of addressing the county’s need for some action to remedy the condition of the courthouse.

In the discussion that Raley initiated last week, Paslay pledged to do everything he can to respond to what he considers a clear need. He cautioned his fellow commissioners that voters in southern Osage County will be more likely to listen if presented with what is really needed, versus what might be desired.