NORMAN — City officials want to ask Norman residents to approve a wastewater rate hike in November, but they can't agree on how much the increase should be or how it should be calculated.
Some council members say an increase to the base rate of $3.90 a month would hit the smallest users the hardest. They favor an increase in the “usage rate,” or the amount charged for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
Under the current rate structure, residents pay a base fee of $3.90 plus $1.60 per 1,000 gallons of water used.
The usage rate is calculated for each customer based on winter water use, because sewage is not metered, Utilities Director Ken Komiske said.
According to Norman's city charter, any utility rate increase must be approved by voters.
Norman has not increased its rate since 1996, Komiske said. A rate hike is necessary to help pay for improvements to the south sewer plant. The U.S. Department of Environmental Quality has mandated that improvements be made, or the city faces fines of up to $10,000 a day.
In a city council conference last week, Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said it was not a question of whether to ask for a rate hike, but rather a question of agreeing on a rate hike structure.
“It's important to keep it simple so voters understand what we are asking,” Rosenthal said. “It's important that we're all behind this, because it's important that it passes.”