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You pay for what you get and hope you get what you pay for

by Don Gammill Modified: October 30, 2013 at 1:15 pm •  Published: October 30, 2013
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Like the people that inhabit them, cities, towns, counties, states and nations always have needs. The costs can be expensive and we all know who has to pay them.

Here are some recent examples of cities in Oklahoma that are facing needs and how the local electorate wants to take care of those:

Claremore stormwater fee

CLAREMORE — The Claremore Daily Progress reports that local residents will see an increase of  $2.50 on their monthly city utility bill to pay for a stormwater maintenance fee. It’s set to begin January 2014. http://tinyurl.com/lcuudz8

Water flowing over rock
Water flowing over rock

City leaders voted recently to authorize the fee, which they say will bring in about $550,000 in new annual money. The new revenue will be designated for storm water system improvements. The Claremore City Council voted Monday to approve a new  fee that  will be billed monthly through the city utility system.

The decision was made to add the monthly charge to each property owner’s utility bill to generate approximately $550,000 in new annual revenue.

“It [the fee] helps us address storm water challenges,” the Progress quotes City Manager Jim Thomas said. “We still believe long term we have to look at our flooding issues.”

Here are a couple of key points:

1. The Progress reports that this is a flat fee for residential properties and a sliding fee for businesses, based on the size of their property. property size.

2. There will be no exceptions to the new fee for local schools, university, churches, or other non-profit entities.

Thomas told the newspaper says the currently water system can take three to four hours to drain rainwater along some roadway. Darly Golbek, director of public infrastructure, also noted current problems with the city’s drainage ditches.

Hopefully, the new money will help the city take care of the maintenance concerns.

Duncan electric rate

DUNCAN — It’s not a done deal just yet, but there’s a possibility there could be an increase in the rate for electricity use in this Stephens County city soon. City officials say the culprit is unbudgeted and unexpected cost increases.

Pylon with power lines against reddish sky at sunset, Rural North Carolina, USA
Pylon with power lines against reddish sky at sunset, Rural North Carolina, USA

During a recent meeting, city council members discussed, then tabled a resolution to add the increase. Even with that action, local power officials said customers could expect a hike of $3.36 (from $19.40 to $22.76) for each 1,000 kilowatt hour used beginning in November.

The Duncan Banner reported (http://tinyurl.com/knxu5ac) that Duncan Power Director David Yeager told the council: “We’re trying to do two things at once. We need to recover some costs that are not strictly energy related.”

He said Duncan Power had an increase of about 2.5 percent overall this year that wasn’t in the budget.

City officials are facing a hike of $315,210. Yeager said calling on customers to pay for the increase will get the city through November and December.

But there may be another rate increase coming in January because Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority is considering a rate hike that would begin in January. That would translate to another rate increase for Duncan Power and its customers.

It sounds like more adjusting will be necessary.

Stillwater vote Nov. 12

STILLWATER — Residents here will be deciding three propositions next month when they go to the polls.

According to the Stillwater NewsPress, (http://tinyurl.com/ljmrygq) one is “a $20 million general obligation bond that would fund the creation of a youth sports facility and make Boomer Lake Park improvements. This bond will increase a Stillwater resident’s property tax approximately $54 for every $100,000 of taxable property.”

Hand, ballot, check mark
Hand, ballot, check mark

The second proposition is “a $7.5 million package for public safety and equipment.” It would help pay for a new fire station to replace one built in 1938 at University Avenue and Knoblock Street.

It also would pay for about 25 new police vehicles “and help the city improve its safety communication’s system. This will also be a general obligation bond and will be paid through a 10-year payment program.”

This would increase property taxes about $36 for every $100,000 of taxable property.

The third proposition, which would be funded through a sales tax increase, would raise the sales tax from a half-cent to one cent. “Proposition three will help fund specific transportation projects and will help all aspects of transportation in Stillwater.

Not only will it help road structures, but the city will look to improve pedestrian and bicycle traffic.”

The good news on all these up front? Voters will make the call. It’s their choice.

by Don Gammill
General Assignment Editor and Columnist
Don Gammill is general assignment editor and columnist. A native of Ponca City, he graduated from Central State University (now the University of Central Oklahoma). While in college, he was a sports stringer for The Oklahoma City Times....
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