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May 5, 2013

Utility rate charter provision reviewed

(Continued)

NORMAN —

This caused the Norman residents to rebel because they believed the council was acting in bad faith, leading to the charter change, Stawicki said.

Since voters have a fear of the governing body increasing the rates, the charter provision has not been eliminated yet, committee members said.

Many committee members agreed they would like to look at utility rate structures and how this has been historically practiced over the last 15 to 20 years by other communities to understand how changes could be implemented while protecting Norman residents from high rate increases.

A 3 percent increase was discussed, but city council member Robert Castleberry said he did not believe that would be enough.

“Typically, one of the biggest costs in the sanitation and water departments is salaries,” Castleberry said. “That (3 percent rate) is not going to cover any of your infrastructures, that is not going to cover any of your big water supply. That’s just keeping your employees paid. That doesn’t even cover your health insurance. I’m not sure that that is an adequate number.”

Castleberry also urged committee members to remember the 1970s, when 18 and 19 percent was a typical interest rate.

“We are so used to such a low-interest-rate environment that 3 percent seems awfully high. That’s not that high, historically. More people can tell you that interest rates 10 years from now will be close to 10 percent,” he said.

Dillingham said she believed, during previous talks about the increased percentage rate, that the numbers would be closer to 5 percent.

Jessica Bruha

366-3540

jbruha@normantranscript.com

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