It’s more than disappointing that the Oklahoma Tax Commission decided to close a tag agency at Porter after the motor license agent appointed decades ago died, when other good options were available.
Many fear the small Wagoner County community could fade along with Edgar Ray McCullough, who operated the tag agency along with an auto parts store there in Porter nearly six decades. The tag agency, which his surviving children, town leaders and others say supported most of the other business in town, was shuttered on what most people though would be a temporary basis in May after McCullough’s death, but agency officials showed up in July unexpectedly two months later and began removing equipment.
The agency carried this out despite state laws that provide for continuous operations of a tag agency where the appointment of a motor license agent is allowed to continue under oversight of an existing employee. Here, McCullough’s daughter had been helping out her father for years and kind of expected to carry on with what had become the family business.
And while the tax commission’s rules require — except when a few certain circumstances exist — a finding that closing a tag agency would serve the public’s interests, it appears no such finding was made in this instance. A spokeswoman for the agency said the commission was only able to report the commission decided “they were not reopening that one in Porter.”
Nearly five months later, people from neighboring towns still wander into McCullough’s Auto Parts in Porter to inquire about their motor licensing needs and learn about the tag agency’s demise. It is likely those drop-ins will become fewer as each month passes and those who return to renew an annual tag learns about the Porter Tag Agency.
State leaders always tout their economic plans and how they have the interests of rural Oklahoma at heart. But then the bureaucrats make arbitrary and capricious decisions that could suck the life out of small towns — something like shuttering a small but essential tag agency like the one in Porter.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission had the authority to allow the continued operation of the Porter Tag Agency during the months following Edgar Ray McCullough’s death. It probably should have — even if it was for nothing more than to provide for an “orderly transition and ... maintenance of operations of the motor license agency.”
During that time agency officials might have come to understand how vital the services are to the community and the importance of appointing a qualified successor agent. It’s not too late to rethink a decision that appears to have been made arbitrarily and capriciously — we encourage the agency to revisit this issue.