Norman Residents Prepare To Vote On Water Rate Hike

Monday, January 5th 2015, 6:32 pm
By: News 9

Utility rates increase all the time. But the city of Norman hasn't raised its water rates in nearly a decade. Well that could change starting next week with a vote by the people.

Residents concerned about their drinking water can come to city hall on Tuesday, where one of three informational meetings will take place detailing the water rate increase.

“Got something in the mail last week, looks like it's going to be quite an increase," said Norman resident, Barbara Meador.

An increase in a $45-a-month bill is not something Meador is looking forward to. She and many other Norman residents were in the city's drive-thru paying their utility bill. A proposed water rate hike is concerning for some.

The taste and smell of the City of Norman's water is one of the main aspects the city's water rate hike will address. Another issue is water well expansion.

"If this passes we would add more dots which would be more wells," said Norman Director of Utilities, Ken Komeske.

Sixty percent of the city's water comes from Lake Thunderbird and its treatment plant is outdated.

"Been in service since 1965. It works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You know we're always making water," said Komeske.

To update water treatment, the plan is for Norman's water rates to increase about $2 based on usage.

“Nobody likes to raise their own rates. Nobody wants to ask for more money, but it's been nine years since the rates have changed, regulations have changed, our water quality has to be addressed, so these are necessary rates," Komeske said.

The city voted on an increase in 2006 and could face fines if it does not meet new standards.

“If this doesn't pass really were going to come right back to a customer and say we really don't have a choice on some of the regulatory requirements we have to do this or we could be facing fine as a city,” said Komeske.

The city will vote on the rate increase on Tues Jan. 13. Many residents haven't decided.

“I'll probably vote for it because I know that we need to do something, but I think it's going to be hard to do it," said Meador.

Meetings are set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the municipal building, on Wednesday at Truman Elementary School, and Thursday at Fire Station No. 9 on Alameda.

Norman is the only city in Oklahoma that has to vote on utilities. And only a handful of cities in country do so.