In order to repair what has been repeatedly described as a near dilapidated sewer and water distribution systems under and between the streets of Newport, ratepayers have been shouldering some unexpected rate hikes that, for the low income and seniors, have really stung. And there are going to be a few more ratepayer pangs of pain in the future. But the rate of increase is moderating.
According to figures released by City Manager Spencer Nebel at Monday night’s city council meeting, sewer rates will rise July 1st just 4%, water 5% and 5% for stormwater and infrastructure fees. Rate increases of similar sizes will be necessary over the next few years, but then moderating after that. On a better note the city’s portion of the property tax rate will not change in the next fiscal year which also starts July 1st.
However, a tax rate increase that the voters approved on the last ballot measure to build a new city aquatic center will will show up on property tax bills, 42-cents per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.
These and other factoids are found in the city’s budget narrative for the upcoming fiscal year that begins July 1st.
Nebel also told the council that the budget discussions over the past few weeks revealed that the city was, indeed, spending more money on projects than revenue was coming into the city. Nebel was quick to point out that although the trend was definitely toward the red, the city had not gone over the “falls,” but could eventually, if the financial reins aren’t pulled in for a while. Nebel said that explains his “hold the line” approach to next fiscal year’s city budget which still must continue to find funds to replace the city’s water and sewer lines, some of which are 75 years old and are literally falling apart. Other funding sources like urban renewal are expected to help finance those sewer and water line replacements along with an aggressive city effort to land more state and federal grants and/or low interest loans.