SALES taxes issues before voters Tuesday

Monday, August 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Voters in Norman will decide Tuesday whether to fund the replacement of some water lines and the expansion of the city's wastewater collection and treatment system.

Also Tuesday, a new state House member also will be chosen for District 38 in northern Oklahoma, and voters in Johnston County will be asked to fund the building of a new jail.

The proposed five-year, half-cent sales tax increase in Norman would raise $26 million to repair and replace large sewer mains and expand the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.

Last year, after officials learned that the city's wastewater collection system was at 95 percent capacity and that its major collection lines needed to be replaced, the City Council imposed a moratorium on approving development plans until voters approve a way to finance improvements.

Approval of the tax issue Tuesday would mean the moratorium could be lifted and plans for developments can again be considered.

Norman voters also will be asked to approve a $5-per-month fee, which would raise about $2.3 million annually, to increase sewer line maintenance and repair or replace broken neighborhood lines.

A third proposition imposes a one-time building fee on construction to help pay for expanding the sewer system.

Two men are seeking to replace Republican Jim Reese, who quit his House District 38 seat in May in order to head the Oklahoma office of the Farmer Services Agency.

Dale DeWitt, 51, a farmer and teacher from Braman, won a Republican runoff last month for the right to meet Doug Eisenhauer, 48. Eisenhauer, a farmer and businessman, was the only Democrat to file.

District 38 includes Alfalfa and Grant counties and part of Kay County. The election is for the remaining year of Reese's two-year term.

A proposal on the ballot in Johnston County would issue $1.65 million in bonds to build a 49-bed jail in Tishomingo. A second proposal is for a quarter-cent sales tax that would be used to pay for jail operations.

The current jail has been sited for several health code violations and for not having special cells for violent inmates. In May, state Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed a lawsuit asking that the jail be closed because of the numerous deficiencies. A judge has not ruled on the case.

In 1999 and 2000, Johnston County voters failed to pass tax packages that would have built a jail.