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Paperwork error costs Mountain View-Gotebo Public Schools $480,000

The superintendent of Mountain View-Gotebo Public Schools says as a last case scenario he may have to sue the county to obtain the district's funding.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: June 9, 2011

A paperwork error has cost one rural Oklahoma school district $480,000, or about 25 percent of its annual budget, leaving the superintendent struggling to make payroll.

“We should be able to make it, but it's going to be very, very tight,” said Andy Evans, superintendent of Mountain View-Gotebo Public Schools. “It's not right. We didn't do anything wrong to deserve this, and the students didn't do anything wrong.”

The school district was notified in April that it would not receive $480,000 because a legally required form was not filed by a June 15, 2010, deadline.

The sprawling district of about 240 students in southwest Oklahoma, isn't the only public entity in Kiowa County affected by the mistake.

The Caddo Kiowa Technology Center lost approximately $112,000 in funding and Kiowa County government is out $100,000.

“I am truly just not sure why somebody hasn't stepped up and said, ‘We messed up, and we will make it right,'” said Dennis Ruttman, superintendent of the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center. “It became real apparent, it was going to become a case of he said, she said all around. It doesn't really matter who's at fault, it just needs to get resolved.”

The paperwork error is the first of its kind in the 25 years that the state has been reimbursing local governments for funding lost due to large property tax exemptions offered to manufacturers, said Kenny Chuculate, deputy director at the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

What went wrong

The state offers property tax exemptions to major manufacturers for the first five years qualifying companies operate or expand in Oklahoma. In 2011 it provided companies with $33.5 million in tax exemptions.

However, lawmakers didn't want the exemption, created in 1986, to harm school districts or other local entities that would be missing out on ad valorem revenue, so it started a fund that promised to reimburse counties for the revenue lost due to the tax exemption.

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I am truly just not sure why somebody hasn't stepped up and said, ‘We messed up, and we will make it right.'”

Dennis Ruttman

superintendent of the Caddo Kiowa careertech

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