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Amid Budget Crisis, Small Oklahoma Towns Have Big Problems

Logan Layden
StateImpact Oklahoma

The tiny town of Corn, Oklahoma, in Washita County has big problems. The lagoon that’s supposed to hold the town’s wastewater has holes in it, reports member station KOSU. Repairing the lagoon will take hundreds of thousands of dollars. And Corn doesn’t have the money. The tiny community will need to take out a loan to fix the water problem. And to pay back the loan, they’ll need to hike taxes. And that could cause people to move away.

In McCurtain, Oklahoma, another town of 500 people, the story is the same: A $100,000 water project, and no way to pay for it. Without water, towns like McCurtain and Corn could shrivel up and disappear. State grants would help solve the problem. But the state of Oklahoma continues to cut taxes amid a massive budget crisis.

That means the need for grant money is growing while the amount of state appropriations funding the grant program is shrinking. More tax cuts mean problems for rural Oklahoma.