ODOT appreciates State Auditor and Inspector's prompt action on CIRB audit request
EDITOR'S NOTE: Please see the attached press release and letter from State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.
Officials with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation appreciate the prompt action of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones’ office in the detailed review and clearing of the agency against allegations of mishandling state funds designated for the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges program and correcting the misinformation being distributed publicly.
“The Department was shocked that the allegations of funds mismanagement were made when, in fact, all CIRB funds are accounted for,” ODOT Executive Director Mike Patterson said. “As is commonly known by county officials, the state Legislature diverted $230 million in state funding from the CIRB program beginning in 2015 and that’s why the fund has a current negative balance.”
While the agency shares in the disappointment of the removal of these much-needed funds for the county road system, this action by the Legislature is within its authority to reallocate state funds to balance the state budget.
Patterson previously advised the Oklahoma Transportation Commission at its March 2018 meeting that these cuts had put the CIRB fund in the red and that progress would have to be slowed on awarding contracts for planned county road and bridge projects going forward until funding could be replenished. ODOT expects the CIRB fund to be replenished in the coming months.
The CIRB program was created by House Bill 1176 in 2006. The law directs state CIRB funds to be equally distributed among the eight Oklahoma Transportation Commission districts, not individual counties, and administered by ODOT through the commission approved five-year CIRB plan.
“This extremely important and successful program allows counties to tackle major road and bridge projects that individual counties are unable to fund with their own resources,” Patterson said.
The CIRB fund receives $120 million annually in state motor vehicle collection revenue, which is combined with federal, local and tribal monies to fund projects in the five-year CIRB Plan. The plan is rebalanced annually with input from the counties and their Circuit Engineering Districts.
Counties are responsible for carrying out preconstruction efforts, including design, right-of-way acquisition and utility relocation before a construction project can go to bid. Once a CIRB project is ready for construction, ODOT puts the contract out to bid. ODOT’s role includes responsibility for facilitating funding with county commissioners, overseeing use of the funds and ensuring the projects are built to state and federal standards.