City Hall Prepares For Water Line Vote
With aging infrastructure and recurring water line breaks, the City of McAlester is putting to a vote of the people a way to fund a new project aimed at fixing the problem.
On Tuesday, November 9th, citizens of McAlester will vote on a new referendum. The ballot has two questions on it. Question 1 will ask citizens to approve or reject a water infrastructure loan. Question 2 asks for voters to approve or reject a 1/4 cent sales tax to pay for the loan.
The proposed plan is called the Water Line Improvement Project, which will begin in early 2022. A utility rate increase has already been approved by the city council to fund the project and will take effect in January 2022. However, if voters approve the loan and the sales tax, utility rates won’t increase in regard to this project. Click HERE to see an infographic laying it out.
City Manager Pete Stasiak wants citizens to realize that this is not a bond issue. “We are getting a loan through the Oklahoma Water Resources Board and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality,” he said, “Interest rates are historically low, so now is the best time to lock in these rates.” Stasiak also noted that the DEQ and OWRB will have oversight of the project, meaning they’ll be monitoring progress and making sure funds are being used in the way the project specified.
The loan would be for $32.5 million and be paid back over a 30-year period. The proposed 1/4 cent sales tax would be used specifically to pay for the loan.
The project aims to replace 28 miles of transmission and distribution lines that run from the water treatment plant to the town and into some neighborhoods. “But these are not your neighborhood water lines,” Mayor John Brown indicated. “These are lines that carry the water into the city and the city’s water lines tie into them at certain junctions around the town.” The project is scheduled to be completed in five years, replacing lines that are more than 100 years old.
Early in-person voting will be Thursday, November 4th and Friday, November 5th. To find your voting precinct, click HERE.