The Norman Transcript

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September 11, 2013

Sewer rate increase goes to voters Nov. 12

NORMAN — Norman voters will be asked to approve a wastewater rate increase on Nov. 12 to help pay for $63 million in upgrades at the city’s southside sewer plant.

Among other improvements including added capacity and odor control, the treatment facility renovation will allow the city to meet new Department of Environmental Quality requirements.

If the city does not upgrade to meet DEQ standards, Norman could face fines of $10,000 per day by the state. The city will borrow about $32 million for 15 years, according to the plan developed by city staff and the Norman City Council.

If the proposed rate increase is approved by voters, the average water user’s bill will go up about $3.74 a month.

The proposition includes a small increase to the base rate and a small increase to the commodity or use rate. Norman’s current residential sewer rates were established in 1996 and are lower than 15 other comparable cities, including Moore, Midwest City, Edmond, Enid, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Bartlesville, Ardmore, Ponca City, Stillwater, Broken Arrow, Tulsa, Dallas, Lubbock, Texas, and Lawrence, Kan.

If voters approve the rate increase, Norman’s wastewater cost still will be below average when compared to other Oklahoma cities.

The city’s current base rate is $3.90 per month. Voters will be asked to approve a $1.10 per month increase, which will raise the base rate from $3.90 to $5 monthly.

The city’s current commodity rate is $1.60 per 1,000 gallons of treated wastewater. Voters will be asked to increase the commodity rate by $1.10 per 1,000 gallons used. That will bring the commodity rate to $2.70 per 1,000 used.

By conserving water, customers can keep their sewer bills low as well as keeping their water bills low.

The city will try to borrow the money for the revenue bonds through the state’s low-interest revolving fund.

However because the project is large, it may be hard to fund all of the cost through the state.

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