NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
On Friday, June 7, 2013, an article in The Norman Transcript titled “City charter chatter heating up” hit the front page.
On Thursday, June 6, 2013, a “city charter commission” voted to recommend the removal of a city charter provision requiring voter approval for all utility increases in Norman. This commission is comprised of former city council members, city mayors or people who have served the city on various other committees.
Several reasons were given to support such a vote:
· The voter process is costly and unnecessary.
· Norman is the only city in the state requiring a popular vote before increasing utility rates.
· There may not be enough time for an election.
· If the city charter is revised to eliminate voter approval, the city council still would be required to approve any utility rate increase.
1. As a longtime Norman resident, taxpayer and voter, I believe in the right to vote for any and all increases in Norman utility rates. Norman voters have had the right and responsibility to vote for our utility rate increases since the 1970s. At that time, the voters and taxpayers demanded this provision be added to the city charter as a reaction to the city increasing utility rates to pay for additional police.
The city council did not act responsibly then, and what will ensure they continue to act responsibly in the future, if the right to vote on utility increases is removed? I agree that the voting process has a cost, but this is a cost we must pay to ensure the people of Norman have a say and safeguard in future city direction. Voter input is required and voting is necessary to ensure those responsible for our future are held accountable.
2. The article also mentioned that city of Norman utility rates are the lowest of any town its size in the state. I believe the citizens’ right to vote is the reason for these lower rates. I also believe there are increasing needs for water, sewer and trash collection.