The Norman Transcript

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August 25, 2010

Voters turn down water, sanitation increases

NORMAN — Norman voters emphatically voted down water and trash rate hikes Tuesday after months of courting by city officials and members of the Norman City Council.

According to the Cleveland County Election Board, the proposed rate hike for the sanitation fund failed, but not as badly as the proposed water rate increase. In total, 58.85 percent of voters, or 5,302 residents, voted against the trash rate hike, while only 41.15 percent voted in favor of it.

The proposed water rate hike failed by a nearly 2-to-1 margin, with only 34.13 percent of residents supporting the rate increase. In total, 5,980 residents, or 65.87 percent, voted against the water rate hike.

Mayor Cindy Rosenthal wasn’t pleased with the outcome, but vowed to keep working on the issues that led the city to ask for the rate increases in the first place.

“The election’s over, we’ve heard what the voters have to say,” Rosenthal said Tuesday night. “But the financial condition of these two utilities is not changed by the vote.”

Rosenthal said both utilities “desperately need” rate hikes, adding that services provided by both may very well be reduced or changed to correspond to a lack of sufficient funds. She also said important capital projects and other long-term maintenance issues will have to be placed on the back burner until funding becomes available.

As for the economy, Rosenthal said she had no doubt it had an effect on the fate of the two proposed rate hikes.

“I think that’s a huge part of it, the economy,” she said. “Unfortunately, as a city, when we bring a proposition to the voters, we can’t make the economic climate any different than it is.”

The mayor said council will take the defeat in stride and continue working on the problems facing the city’s water and trash services.

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