The Board of County Commissioners, created by the State Constitution, is composed of three Commissioners elected by the people. The County is divided into three districts, as equal in population as possible and numbered 1, 2, and 3 respectively. One Commissioner is elected from each district. Boundaries are set once every 10 years following the federal census.
Although they are elected by district, county commissioners are elected to a board and, as such, are responsible to the county as a whole. As the county's administrative and business management entity, the board is required by law to hold a regular meeting on the first Monday of each month and to execute a wide range of legal and fiscal duties. Among the Board's responsibilities are the powers to make orders and authorizations, to inspect and approve county programs and facilities, to supervise the financial affairs of the county, to investigate the performance of county officials and to designate, construct and maintain the county infrastructure.
The board meets in public session to transact county business. According to law and to principles of good government, the commissioners must act as a board in order to enter into contracts, make purchases, or make any other agreements affecting the county.
As the chief fiscal entity of the county, the Board of County Commissioners is in charge of receiving and expending funds and, therefore, must make major financial decisions and transactions, prepare budgets, award contracts, and act on claims. Annually, the board must consider the estimated needs of each county office for the next fiscal year and publish these estimates. The commissioners then forward these estimates to the Excise Board.
When the county anticipates major purchases or construction projects, the board advertises for bids and lets all contracts for these public works. State law also allows the Board, when necessary, to incur indebtedness in the name of the county. Commissioners are empowered to call county bond issue elections when necessary for public projects.
Another important function of the Board of County Commissioners is to ensure fiscal responsibility on the part of all officials who handle county funds. The board, therefore, not only submits its own annual financial report, but also has the power and the duty to audit the accounts of all the officers who receive, manage, or distribute any money belonging to or appropriated to the county.
Through these procedures of review and approval, the Board of County Commissioners has the means to assure the public that county government is responsible and accountable. If the circumstances warrant, the board can lawfully take action against any officer found delinquent in his/her duties.
Many other duties and functions are performed by county commissioners due to specific needs which vary from county to county. Permissive legislation provides the basis for these additional duties and functions.
The Board regularly meets every Monday, except on holidays or on special occasions, and on occasion meets more than once each week. All sessions are open to the public and held in observance of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.