|SEWER RATES IN QUESTION|
|October 25, 2000 12:00 am|
Brookings City Council candidate Fred Hummel says the city is sitting on a report that shows sewer rates will have to be increased to pay for the $13.1 million bond approved by voters to make improvements to the wastewater treatment.
However, City Manager Leroy Blodgett disagreed with that claim, saying the city has hired a company to conduct a sewer rate study, but the results wont be available for 30 to 60 days.
Blodgett said the study is routine for a bond of such magnitude, and was included in the original plans developed to oversee work being done on the wastewater treatment plant.
Blodgett said he and other city officials are aware the number of new sewer hook-ups (or system development charges) in Harbor have been less than originally estimated.
Were not really concerned about that yet, he said.
The number of new sewer hook-ups in Brookings are about where they should be, he added.
A study is being done to determine if the all the system development charges are adequate to pay for the loan, Blodgett said. If they are not, we will have to raise rates.
That could be done several ways, he added.
Instead of raising the rates for existing ratepayers, we could increase the system development charges, he said. We wont really know what are options are until the study is completed.
The study is being conducted by Portland-based Brown and Caldwell, which has been overseeing the project since the beginning, Blodgett said.
Hummel said at a recent Brookings League of Women Voters Forum that the city was sitting on a sewage rate study by Brown & Caldwell and would probably not reveal the results until after the election.
This was contrary to the promises made by the councilthat we could pay for the $11 million sewage plant expansion for only $5 per month per household, Hummel said.
In August of 1997, prior to the sewer bond election, city officials said a monthly cost increase of $5.76 for a single family customer will go into effect Nov. 1, whether or not the election passes.
This would bring the single family sewer rate to $25.30 and multi-family residential rates to $20.24.
Churches, schools, restaurants, commercial and industrial facilities would pay $8.78 per month plus additional charges based on hundred cubic feet of water use, city officials said.
In addition, Harbor Sanitary District would pay a $1,118 monthly service charge plus at least $2.33 per hundred cubic feet of sewer use.
At the same time, Harbor Sanitary District developed a new rate schedule: Single family monthly charges, currently at $20, may increase $12 to $14 per month.
Harbor Sanitary District officials said multi-family rates were projected to go up $11.50 from $17.50 to $29. Monthly rates for commercial users were expected to go up from a basic rate of $20 a month to $32 per month plus $2.85 per 1,000 gallons..
These increases were put into effect Nov. 1, 1997.
In addition, system development charges for new hookups were increased to $3,288 for a single family home and to $2,646 per unit for multiple family dwellings.
Sewer charges for a restaurant with less than 25 seats would increase to $9,000, while one with between 25 and 50 seats would rise to $11,250. A new office or commercial establishment would pay $6,750 for wastewater hookup.
The wastewater hookup charges were in addition to other system development charges for water, transportation, storm drainage and parks and recreation.
On Tuesday, Mayor Bob Hagbom the city is not scheduled to take over the wastewater treatment plant until late this year.
Our first payment on the loan is due in January 2001, Hagbom said. At this point, we feel were in pretty good shape, although were disappointed that Harbor Sanitary Districts decision not to expand into the Urban Growth Boundary.
Community Development Director Leo Lightle said this week that although new sewer hookups remain strong in the city, there has been a consistent decline in Harbor Sanitary District hookups.
Lightle said since August 1997 when the $13.1 million wastewater treatment plant improvement was approved by voters, a total of 378.54 Equivalent Dwelling Units have been recorded.
An Equivalent Dwelling Unit is a method for determining charges for sewer hookups by comparing monthly water use. A single family home constitutes 2.2 EDUs.
Since Aug. 1, 1996, when the city signed an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, there has been a total of 378.54 Equivalent Dwelling Units recorded by Brookings and Harbor combined, Lightle said.
Unfortunately, more than one-third of those came during calendar year 1997 when the city had 99.69 EDUs and Harbor had 34.20 for a total of 133.89.
Since that time, Harbor has had less than 10 hookups per year, he said.