The Shawnee News-Star
  • Commission votes down rezoning, continues water rate increase

  • The Shawnee City Commission did not vote on deferring the November water rate increase.
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  • The Shawnee City Commission did not vote on deferring the November water rate increase.
    The commissioners did not make a motion on the item, and it died for lack of a motion. Therefore, the current plan will remain in effect.
    Commissioners also voted down the rezoning of 204 N. Louisa. The request was to rezone the property to C-4 Industrial, which would have allowed for an overnight shelter, to be run by the Shawnee Rescue Mission.
    A day shelter, soup kitchen, and food pantry are still allowed within the current C-3 zoning.
    Former Mayor Linda Peterson spoke during the citizen’s participation portion to encourage commissioners to not delay the water rate increase.
    “I am very surprised that there is an item on the agenda tonight to get rid of that plan or to postpone it,” Peterson said.
    “If you have money in the SMA right now, I guarantee it will not be enough for all the improvements that need to be made,” she added.
    Questions about the water rates surfaced after the Smith Roberts Baldischwiler, LLC, the company working on the comprehensive master plan, asked the city to hold off on any new capital improvements.
    The increases were implemented in 2008 in order to pay for several improvements, including the Atoka water line. However, after the half-million dollar contract for the comprehensive plan was approved by the commission, Smith Roberts Baldischwiler requested the city hold off on any large improvements in order to ensure the accuracy of their plan.
    “We’ll have more of a game plan,” for changes to make to the water system, Utilities Director Jim Bierd said.
    “I don’t want to get the cart before the horse,” Bierd said.
    He elaborated and said if changes and improvements were made now, they may be done out of order of the plan, or they could be the wrong changes.
    “That’s what we hired them for, was to tell us what to do next,” Bierd added.
    Finance Director Cindy Sementelli said the city has $2 million in projects for water and sewer pipe bursting, which is fully funded, she added.
    If the rate increases do not go through, the revenues will be under budget by $500,000 for water and $250,000 for sewer.
    Commissioner Steve Smith said it would be better to continue with the increase and save the money in case it is needed to purchase water next summer, should the drought continue.
    The water rate increase went into effect Nov. 1 and will be seen on the December billing cycle.
    Commissioners voted 6-1 against the rezoning of 204 N. Louisa.
    Commissioner James Harrod moved to not allow the rezoning to allow for an overnight shelter, and commissioner Linda Agee seconded. Harrod, Agee, Mayor Wes Mainord, commissioners Keith Hall, John Winterringer, and Pam Stephens concurred, voting to dismiss the rezoning.
    Page 2 of 2 - Smith voted in opposition.
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