Election may be overturned

A mistake in the legal publication of a notice concerning the April 5 county sales tax election may result in a new vote.

Per state law, Tulsa County officials scheduled a legal notification to run in the Tulsa World for four issues to satisfy state law. It ran only once, a clear violation of the law.

County officials sent a hard copy of the notice to the Tulsa World with instructions on how many times it should run and the Tulsa World claims it never got the instructions. Tulsa County Clerk Pat Key told the Tulsa World her office did not make the mistake. The Tulsa World is not accepting blame for the situation.

The Oklahoma Press Association provides a book with instructions on paid legal notice publication to all of its members, including the Tulsa World.

Berkshire Hathaway, a company controlled by Warren Buffett of Omaha, Nebraska, owns the Tulsa World and the Tulsa Legal News – two of the legal newspapers in the county. The Tulsa Beacon is the only independent legal newspaper in Tulsa County.

Because the Tulsa World failed to publish the election notice properly, the issue will eventually go before a judge. If the judge follows the letter of the law, the April 5 election will be overturned.

Then, county commissioners could choose to repeat the vote, probably during the August runoff election or the November general election. No estimate of how much it will cost the county for a second election is mandated.

If a second vote fails, the 0.05 sales tax extension would reduce taxes in the county by about $75 million over five years.

This does not affect the sales tax increase that was approved for the City of Tulsa in the April 5 election.