Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Budget Crimps Compound Increased Staff Workload

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Budget Crimps Compound Increased Staff Workload

Article excerpt

Budget constraints at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission are compounding an increase in the work load of the Oil and Gas Conservation Division, commissioners were told Thursday.

Commissioners routinely get updates from the eight divisions of the agency.

Conditions in the oil and gas division exist agencywide due to the latest internally projected revenue shortfall of $1.5 million, General Administrator Thadd Johnson told commissioners.

"We're not here to gripe," said Division Director C.D. "Jack" Davidson, who retires next year.

"We're willing to do whatever is necessary to adjust. We're just telling you where we stand." Taking pollution complaints as an example of the gain in work load, there is a nearly 30 percent increase for first quarter fiscal 1992 which began July 1 compared to the same period last year, said Mike Schmidt, deputy director of the division.

There were 1,301 complaints filed during the current first quarter, Schmidt said, compared to 1,007 in the prior first quarter.

Of all current pollution complaints, 70.3 percent have been resolved, he said, while 25.4 percent are working and 3.5 percent have been referred for legal action. That compares to a 73.9 percent resolution rate during the previous first quarter, he said, and only 0.8 percent being referred for legal action.

"Our vacancy rate is having an effect on us," Schmidt said.

"We're simply struggling along." The division is operating with 16 vacancies compared to an average of 12 last year, he said. Equipment is in various stages of "dilapidation," and the division has grown beyond its current available space, he added.

Still, Commissioner Cody Graves said the division is to be commended on both its resolution rate and referrals for legal action.

According to the General Counsel Division, pollution enforcement cases have risen significantly over the past three years. …

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