Lawton City Council to vote on raising utility rates and fees by 15 percent

Published: May. 27, 2022 at 6:13 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Lawton City Council is considering increasing utility rates and fees again, but this time it would hike bills up by 15 percent.

That’s after Lawton City Council approved a budget for the 2022-2023 fiscal year earlier this week.

The next time you go to pay your utility bill in Lawton, it might leave your wallet feeling a little lighter. If City Council approves a proposed rate increase of 15 percent, a customer who pays about $71 right now would end up paying closer to $80.

High gas prices and inflation aren’t only hurting the average consumer, but cities as well.

Lawton’s Finance Director Joe Dunham said filling up first responder vehicles and trash trucks leaves a huge dent in budget.

“It’s things like that that we don’t have control over,” Dunham said. “We’re feeling the pinch just like the average citizen is at the gas pump. Our gas prices have gone up 50 to 60 percent”

According to Dunham, department heads have cut expenses where they can, but it’s just not enough.

He wants people to know the City is trying to be as transparent as possible about where they’re spending money.

“It’s really hard to see that pothole out in your street everyday for a year and it’s real easy to think, ‘Well, by God they’re just not doing anything.’ It’s not that we’re not doing anything,” Dunham said. “We just haven’t made it there yet.”

Alfred Finch has lived in Lawton for 30 years.

He said he thinks this is the result of the pandemic.

“It’s the nature of what we’re doing now, coming out of the back end of COVID, trying to justify costs,” Finch said. “However, if you’re going to raise the rates, we need to be able to see it in a tangible meaningful way, where it’s coming back to the residents to show what we’re paying for.”

He said he understands why the City may need to make adjustments, but he doesn’t just want the change to be on paper.

“They said they were going to change the way they were doing the garbage route,” Finch said. “In my opinion, that went worse instead of going better because now we’ve got trash floating around the neighborhoods. I need, and I think people in Lawton need, something tangible, meaningful we can actually see.”

Lawton City Council is set to vote on the rate increase on June 14. If approved, the increase would go into effect on July 1.

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