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Norman residents to vote on sewer rate increase

Voters will be asked to approve a sewer rate hike on a Nov. 12 ballot.
by Jane Glenn Cannon Modified: September 12, 2013 at 10:00 am •  Published: September 11, 2013

Norman residents will go to the polls Nov. 12 to decide on a hike in sewer rates. City officials are asking that the base rate be increased from $3.90 to $5 a month and the user rate be increased from $1.60 to $2.70 for every 1,000 gallons of water used.

Based on past usage records, the average water user's bill will go up about $3.74 a month, Finance Director Anthony Francisco said.

City council members voted unanimously Tuesday to put the rate hike request on the ballot. According to Norman's charter, any utility rate increase requires approval by voters.

Officials say the rate hike is necessary to help pay for some $63 million in improvements to the south sewer plant. The U.S. Department of Environmental Quality has mandated that improvements be made, or the city faces fines up to $10,000 a day.

Norman's current residential sewer rates were established in 1996 and are lower than other comparable cities, including Moore, Midwest City, Edmond, Oklahoma City, Enid, Broken Arrow and Tulsa, said Utilities Director Ken Komiske.

If voters approve the increase, the rate will remain below average compared to other Oklahoma cities, Komiske said.

Voters are asked to increase the base rate by $1.10 and the use rate by $1.10 a month. The rate is calculated on the low usage months of December, January and February, Komiske said.

Conservation efforts during those months would allow consumers to have some control over their bills, Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said.

The city will use a combination of funding sources to pay for improvements to the sewer plant, including borrowing about $32 million in revenue bonds over a 15-year period, Komiske said.

by Jane Glenn Cannon
Senior Reporter
A native of Oklahoma, Jane Glenn Cannon is an award-winning reporter who has covered everything from crime, courts and government to entertainment and features. She wrote a popular personal column for many years. She is a former associate writer...
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