A cooperative agreement struck between city and county officials for improvements along two streets where jurisdictional obstacles delayed maintenance and spawned critics won approval from the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office. 

The agreement — approved by the Muskogee County Board of Commissioners and Muskogee City Council during the waning months of 2019 — sets out the arrangement to share costs for labor and materials for a one-mile segment of East Hancock Street and another one-mile segment of South York Street. County workers will perform some of the preliminary work and let bids for the asphalt overlay contracts.

District 1 Commissioner Ken Doke approached city officials about a year ago with a proposal for the cooperative agreement. Public Works Director Greg Riley said the arrangement could save city taxpayers more than twice of what the projected costs will be by partnering with the county. 

"Had we done those one-mile sections ourselves it would be quite a bit more than $64,000 — about double that — so we are getting a lot of bang for our buck," Riley said. "We will do what we can to help the county get it going — they hope to get them bid by next spring."

Doke said the municipal boundary divides the one-mile stretches of these two streets — East Hancock between South York and South Country Club, and South York between Peak Boulevard and Smith Ferry Road. State law prohibits county governments from working on city streets and vice versa — that has stymied efforts in the past to keep up with maintenance needs. 

The Interlocal Cooperation Act provides a workaround for that prohibition, so the parties began negotiating an equitable division of costs based upon the amount of roadway situated within the jurisdictional boundaries of each political subdivision. The deal advances mutual interests of improving "drivability and drainage and possible development opportunities" while "providing significant economic benefits." 

The projected cost of the South York Street project is just more than $134,000, and the projected cost of East Hancock Street project is about $118,000. Documents submitted to the attorney general's office for review show the city's portion will range from just shy of $65,000 for East Hancock to about $67,000 for South York Street.  

Projected costs to the county, which will provide labor and equipment for much of the preliminary work — grading, patching, pipe replacement and drainage — is expected to be about $53,000 for the one-mile stretch of East Hancock and $67,000 for South York Street. 

Riley said the county will front the initial costs, and the city will reimburse its share of the actual costs as the projects are completed. He said similar agreements will be pursued as the city's five-year streets program steers work into other zones.  

City Manager Mike Miller lauded the arrangement.

"Working together," he said, "our money can go a lot further."

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