The fourth Osage Minerals Council is asking some questions of both the state and the federal governments.
At its Jan. 4 meeting, the council voted 7-0 to authorize Chairman Everett Waller to contact the Oklahoma Tax Commission and request gross production tax records for the last five years.
All petroleum production in Osage County is subject to a 5 percent gross production tax that is supposed to be earmarked for schools, roads and bridges within the county. In 2017 alone, the tribe paid $1.7 million in gross production taxes.
“We want an accounting of what money went where,” Waller said. “This will assist us with our MOU with ODOT (Oklahoma Department of Transportation).”
The council voted in November to send to the Office of the Attorney General a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with ODOT regarding sandy soil leases for road and bridge projects across Osage County. As written, ODOT would pay a one-time royalty fee for each excavation project, regardless of the site’s size. Until an agreement is worked out, all road projects across the county are frozen.
Councilor Talee Redcorn was absent.
The council also authorized Waller to send a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional director, Eddie Streater, with concerns about the staffing levels at the Pawhuska Agency and its potential impact on the mineral estate.
The decision came after the council was carbon copied on a letter to Streater from a former BIA employee about the facility’s staff turnover.
“We want it in writing how they’re going to fix it,” Waller said. “I’ve heard it many times … before this council that they don’t have the funds. That’s part of the issue.”
The Department of Interior is one of nine federal departments closed as part of an ongoing partial government shutdown. The BIA’s Pawhuska Agency did not have any representation at the Minerals Council meeting.
The council’s next meeting is scheduled for Jan. 16. Citing potential conflicts with individual dates, the council tabled approving its full 2019 schedule.