NORMAN — Few doubted the sewer rate increase would pass in Tuesday’s election. The margin of victory, however, surprised many. Nearly 76 percent of the voters who cast ballots approved of raising their own utility rates.
Norman remains one of the few cities in the state that must get voter approval before utility rates can be increased. We last raised sewer rates in 1996.
Utilities Director Ken Komiske said the city’s assets are similar to a home that needs to be upgraded. The big difference, of course, is state and federal regulations that mandate the systems be modernized to meet new guidelines for wastewater.
The improvements include added capacity to the southside plant, maintenance and repair of the aging facility and additional disinfection and dissolved oxygen requirements.
Tuesday’s election was a quiet one. With only one item on the ballot, the measure drew fewer than 5,500 votes. Opposition voices were few, and the yes campaign consisted of a handful of direct mail pieces and one newspaper advertisement this past Sunday.
A couple of council watchers said the fact that the discussions over the Lindsey Street improvements had been mostly settled helped voters say yes.
The measure had the endorsement of the Norman Chamber of Commerce board and the Norman Citizens Wastewater Oversight Committee. We take the vote as evidence that if the city does its homework and makes its case for a rate or tax increase, voters will respond accordingly.
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