Waurika Council deadlocked on water rate hike - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Waurika Council deadlocked on water rate hike

Waurika, OK(KSWO)_The Waurika City Council met in special session Thursday night to try and solve a huge financial problem facing the town.

They're staring at a budget shortfall for the current fiscal year that ends in June.  One option is to increase the water bill by 30 percent. 

After some intense debate, they remain at a stalemate over that decision.

Waurika Mayor Mike Gaines said the budget shortfall was caused by a series of events over the past several months that led to a decrease in revenue, such as the closure of a prison, as well as a reduction in the amount of water purchased by rural customers. 

The city hired Russ Meacham, who runs an accounting firm, to come in and look at their budget, and give suggestions on how they could either increase revenue or cut expenses in order to fill the shortfall.  

He said the city could decide to streamline the way money from the general fund is distributed. Right now they have 28 separate accounts, each with specific restrictions on how the money is spent.  By merging them into 10 accounts, Meacham said they would have greater flexibility in spending.

After two hours of debate, the council voted, but because one member was absent due to illness, the vote was split 2-2 on whether they should raise the utility rates by 30 percent, putting the minimum rate at around $90.

One councilman said he simply needed more time to look over the proposal, since it was such an important decision, given the impact it would have on residents, to take on such a huge increase in their water bill.

They'll meet again next week to vote again on the proposal.

Copyright 2017 KSWO. All rights reserved.

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