By Katherine Parker
The Norman Transcript
NORMAN — Fifty four persons had cast early, in-person absentee ballots by 2 p.m. today in the Norman sewer rate increase election, officials said.
A new state law allows early voting on Thursday and Friday but no longer on Mondays.
Polls are open until 6 p.m. today and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday at the Cleveland County Election Board, 641 E. Robinson Street.
Election board offices will be closed on Monday for Veterans Day.
Regular voting will commence at 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 12.
Norman residents will consider an increase in the sewer service rates. Williams said 51 precincts in Cleveland County are affected by special elections Nov. 12. In addition to Norman, the city of Lexington and Mustang Public Schools also have special elections on that date.
• Norman ballot initiative — Norman voters will be asked to approve a wastewater rate increase to help pay for $63 million in upgrades at the city’s southside sewer plant.
If the proposed rate increase is approved, the average water user’s bill will go up about $3.74 a month. Average commercial rates will go up by $7.39 per month. Sewer rates have not risen since 1996.
Norman is the only Oklahoma city that must have utility rate increases approved by a vote of the people.
If the city does not upgrade to meet Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality standards, Norman could face state fines of $10,000 per day. The city will borrow about $32 million for 15 years, according to the plan developed by the city.
The proposition includes an increase to the base rate and an increase to the commodity or use rate. Even if voters approve the rate increase, Norman’s wastewater cost will remain below average compared to other Oklahoma municipalities.
The city’s current base rate is $3.90 per month. Voters will be asked to approve a $1.10 per month increase, raising 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 gallons used.
• Lexington ballot initiative — Lexington voters will consider an additional half percent sales tax to boost the city’s general fund. The current sales tax rate is 3.5 percent. If approved, the increase would bring the sales tax to 4 percent.
Tax at surrounding cities are already at 4 percent, Lexington City Manager Charlie McCown said.
• Mustang Public Schools — Mustang voters will consider two school bond propositions.
If approved, Proposition 1 will allow the district to build a new JROTC Center for $1.4 million, an indoor baseball facility for $1.325 million and a new barn for FFA. Proposition 2 would provide buses, special need buses and vans.
Proof of identity is required for both early voting and regular precinct voting. A voter registration card or a photo ID such as a driver’s license are the most commonly used, but a photo ID issued by the U.S. government, the state or a federally recognized tribal government can be used.
For more information, call the Cleveland County Election Board at 366-0210.