NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
According to the Transcript, the City Council is under some pressure from the Norman Developers Council and the Builders Association demanding that the remainder of the temporary sales tax (fund 323), some $6 million, be diverted to begin construction of a North Treatment Plant in the Lake Thunderbird watershed.
Even though the City’s own legal department has made it clear that the City is under no obligation to invest that money in a North treatment plant, these interest groups persist in a campaign of disinformation in order to force the city to build a facility for which there is no legitimate or economic justification.
The developers, in a letter from their attorney, have now threatened the City Council that they will not support the Transportation Bond Package unless the North plant is included in the budget.
There is no confusion on the council or in the public mind as to the latitude given the council to make prudent decisions by the referendums concerning the temporary sales tax.
There is no public demand for a do-over referendum. The Transcript article further made clear that, in response to developers’ empty threats, the city attorney is negotiating with developers a deal to “set aside” the remaining $6 million for a North plant sometime in the future.
As you must know, if that happens, utility customers will have to make up the difference through higher than necessary rates to complete the mandatory upgrades at the current plant. This is unacceptable.
A sewer rate increase, voted on by the citizens, will be necessary to fund the SWWTP project. Whether or not it passes may well depend on how the temporary sales tax fund will be used.
If all the remaining $6 million from the temporary sales tax fund are not dedicated to the SWWTP project, the rate increase will be higher than necessary and citizens will likely reject it.
This could have serious repercussions for developers. Since Norman could soon be in violation of the Clean Water Act, a building moratorium is not out of the question.
We should also add that the excise tax on new construction is now over 10 years old.
It appears not to be adequate. It would be appropriate to consider an increase of that tax along with any rate increase proposal.
Cynthia L. Rogers