Savings and Loan Panel Defers Decision on Frederick Agency

Article excerpt

The competition for deposits is at the heart of a controversy that refuses to go away over whether a Texas savings and loan association can operate an agency in Frederick, Okla., a town of about 6,100 people, located 15 miles north of the Texas border.

In Frederick, the Jim Roberts Agency of the Vernon Savings and Loan Association competes directly with a branch of Duncan Savings and Loan Association.

But the issue goes beyond the city limits of Frederick, the Oklad Loan Board decided Thursday.

For that reason, the board deferred a decision on a proposed rule that could put Vernon Savings and Loan Association's Oklahoma agency, known as the Jim Roberts Agency, out of business.

"The way I understand it, if the rule says they can't take deposits, they'd be out of business," Robert Y. Empie, Oklahoma banking commissioner and chairman of the savings and loan board, said Thursday.

Empie advised the board to wait until the Oklahoma Legislature convenes next month to issue any regulation, in order to avoid having to defend the legal status of an emergency rule.

"I'd rather play it safe," Empie said.

The Oklahoma Bankers Association and the Oklahoma League of Savings Institutions, two groups that often are on opposite sides of an issue, banded together in August to ask the savings and loan board to write a rule that would define a thrift's agency as an entity that cannot take deposits.

The bankers and the thrift executives have said, in legal briefs filed with the state savings and loan board, that they believe the Texas thrift's agency in Frederick is acting beyond its legal scope.

Widespread, aggressive advertising by the Texas thrift in Oklahoma newspapers has rankled the executives of Oklahoma-based banks and thrifts.

The ads have not always pointed out that Vernon Savings and Loan Association of Vernon, Texas, operates an agency - and not a branch - at Frederick, according to Mary Beth Guard, attorney for the Oklahoma Banking Department and the state savings and loan board.

It was 1965 when Vernon Savings and Loan Association obtained a license to open the agency in Frederick, after the Oklahoma Savings and Loan Board had rejected its application for a branch license.

The legal problems stem from the vagueness of savings and loan board records over whether the Texas thrift was given permission 21 years ago to accept deposits at its agency office in Frederick.

"It seems to me," Empie said, "that accepting a payment on a share account would be the equivalent of a deposit. But that was before savings and loans could offer checking accounts."

The proposed rule would distinguish between a branch of a savings and loan association and an agency.

"I don't think it's a question of just Vernon and Tillman County," Guard said. "I think Vernon, through its advertising, has captured deposits from all over the state."

The competition from the Texas thrift is not being taken lightly in a time when many Oklahoma banks and savings and loan associations are struggling for survival, the savings and loan board was told Thursday by Laura Pringle, vice president and general counsel for the Oklahoma Bankers Association.

"These are unusual times in Oklahoma," Pringle said. "If this isn't a case when you can adopt a rule when the Legislature is not in session, I don't ka0092 ' g jr-loc-12-12-80-firestone By Patti Case A six-months notice to close the local Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. plant will be issued next week, as promised, in response to the rejection of an $8 million concessions package Thursday by the International Rubber Workers policy committee, according to Bob Troyer, Firestone spokesman.

A ray of hope for the Oklahoma City plant remains, however, according to union and company officials.

The policy committee, which met Thursday in Cleveland, voted 6 to 5 to reject proposed cuts of about $3. …