Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Banking Board Holds Line on State Assessment Fees

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Banking Board Holds Line on State Assessment Fees

Article excerpt

In spite of a 2 percent budget cut, the state Banking Department will not increase bank assessments this year, according to Oklahoma Banking Commissioner Mick Thompson.

Thompson had previously warned that an 8 percent increase in assessments might be necessary if lawmakers cut agency appropriations dramatically.

Due to a $350 million shortfall, Oklahoma lawmakers were forced to slash spending at most state agencies during the 2002 session, but the 2 percent hit absorbed by the Banking Department was one of the smallest cuts this year.

Thompson told members of the Oklahoma State Banking Board on Wednesday that the agency's appropriation means officials "see no need" to even consider "any kind of increases" in bank assessments.

"Our budget should be in good shape," he said.

Because the department's budget was left mostly intact, officials may even be able to recommend a reduction in assessments in November.

"We may bring a number to you to reduce assessments again, and that's certainly wasn't what we were thinking a few months ago," Thompson said.

At the beginning of the legislative session in February, Gov. Frank Keating proposed cutting $213,000 from the Banking Department budget for fiscal year 2003, and recommended that the agency stabilize its finances by drawing money from the agency's revolving fund to make up the difference.

Normally, the revolving fund is used only for one-time purchases such as equipment. The fund is maintained with money raised from fees paid by banks converting to state bank charters.

There were 19 bank conversions in an 18-month period in 2000 and 2001, but the number of conversions has slowed this year. As a result, the amount of cash in the revolving fund is not expected to increase dramatically this year.

Lawmakers have also diverted money from the fund to other state agencies in recent years. …

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