An organized citizen group, Norman Citizens for Civic Responsibility, led the revolt and initiated two petitions. One was a referendum to repeal the rate increases, and the second was to add a charter provision requiring a vote of the people to raise utility rates. While only 1,947 signatures were required, 9,300 angry citizens signed the petition.
The city filed a lawsuit protesting both petitions that was ultimately appealed to the state Supreme Court by the city against the citizens, but the court affirmed the sufficiency of the citizens Charter Amendment petition requiring a vote of Norman citizens to raise utility rates.
An election was scheduled for Nov. 18, 1975, and voters approved the measure by an overwhelming margin of 66-plus percent, with 7,565 voting. This convinced the mayor and the council to roll back the rates.
Since the passage of the amendment, 22 requests for increases have been brought to the people, and 17 have passed. Past experience clearly demonstrates that Norman citizens respond.
In the spring, we will see the first of these issues placed on the ballot, and the others will follow as planned by the city. These proposals, if approved, will increase our sales tax, raise our utility bills and add to our property taxes. The Strategic Water Plan and the commuter/light rail project alone could cost as much as $900 million or more.
We are facing a collection of very expensive ideas, plus one that threatens our voting rights. With current tax rates squeezing middle-income families, we must determine wants vs. needs before we are asked to vote.
It is vital to stay informed by viewing council meetings on Cox Cable Channel 20 or to attend the study sessions, public meetings or city council meetings. Readers also will be able to follow these issues on CFRGnorman.com.
When we fail to vote, someone else will decide the issues for us, but we will pay.
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