Claremore Daily Progress

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February 19, 2014

Council tables stormwater exemption issue

(Continued)

CLAREMORE —

“I’ve had numerous complaints about this project over the last several months,” he said. “I believe this policy is not conducive to the community.”
He said that many business owners have already built water retention plans designed by the city, but will be required to pay thousands more with the monthly charge.
“I feel like this is unfair,” he said. “I have been asked to approach the Attorney General for an opinion; at this time, that is what I plan to do.”
Thomas said the fee has been discussed and studied since 2008 as a way to finance more than $30 million worth of stormwater projects that are needed.
“It’s been through a number of revisions, but I felt the timing was right,” he said. “It’s an ordinance that’s enacted in many communities in Northeast Oklahoma.”
Claremore’s ordinance was modeled after the City of Tulsa’s which has been in place since 1986.
“I can tell you from a public policy standpoint, this is a fair policy,” Thomas said. “Of the $540,000 to be collected, $260,000 will come from individual residents. The rest will be paid by business owners.”
He said there has been no opposition by the city’s larger industries, including Baker Hughes and Pelco.
“We treat everybody equally,” he said.
Thomas said when he spoke with the Claremore Area Ministerial Alliance about their concerns, he told them, “When the rain falls from heaven, it doesn’t exempt churches, schools or universities.”
Until the ordinance can be clarified at the March 3 meeting, Thomas said he will issue an administrative order to pull the fee from the utility bills of the six affected businesses.

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