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Panhandle dispute places Cimarron County treasurer and school board members at risk

The Cimarron County district attorney and two prominent school law firms have locked horns in a Panhandle dispute over attorneys' fees. Caught in the legal crossfire are the county treasurer and two school boards.
by Randy Ellis Modified: May 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm •  Published: May 14, 2013
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The feedlot operator eventually dropped the protest and paid more than $368,000 in taxes, but by that time the Tisdal firm was owed $39,995 in legal fees.

The district attorney directed the Boise City School District, Keyes School District and Cimarron County to split the fee based on the proportion of the protested taxes they were to receive.

The Boise City School District was to receive $251,450 so it was asked to pay $27,302. The Keyes School District was asked to pay $3,963. The county entities were asked to pay $8,729.

The Keyes School District paid, but the Boise City School District refused, citing the advice of The Center for Education Law and the Rosenstein, Fist & Ringold law firm.

“There is no lawful way the District can pay for a share of the attorney's fees,” an attorney with The Center for Education Law said in a July letter to Boring.

“We are informed and understand (the) District was not a party to the tax protest, nor is it a party to any agreement for the payment of attorney's fees related to the protest,” the letter said. “If the District were to authorize payment for a portion of the attorney's fees now, on an agreement it never was a party to, and for which funds were never encumbered, such payment would violate the Oklahoma Constitution.”

Harris, the Boise City School District's superintendent, said he believes his school board may sue to recover the money transferred by the treasurer plus attorneys' fees.

by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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