Water and Sewer rates increase for FY 2021-22

As of July 1st, the City has adopted new water ratesThe rates represent increases of:

In City:

  • Water base rate – $5
  • 748 gallon ‘unit’ rate – $1
  • Sewer base rate – $10
  • 748 gallon ‘unit’ rate – $1

Out of City:

  • Water base rate – $15
  • 748 gallon ‘unit’ rate – $1

The average customer uses 4 units of water (3000 gal), so the average bill would increase by $23. Based on the number of customers and average usage rates, we expect this to increase revenues of:

  • Water fund – $151,200 per year. 
  • Sewer fund – $159,600 per year. 

Where is this money going?

As is required by the state, the City recently completed a comprehensive water and waste water planning document. These detail specific actions, both long term and annually, that need to be accomplished. 

The Water Master Plan identified $70,500 worth of required spending to meet state requirements annually. The Wastewater facility plan identified $100,000 worth of annual spending to meet state requirements. These expenditures are required. This accounts for $170,000 of the expected $310,000 in increase revenue. 

Next, the City decided to implement a rate payer assistance programfor lower income households. We anticipate this will cost roughly $80,000 over the year

The cost of materials, labor and maintenance costs of the plants represent about a $60,000 increase from previous years. Most of this is in equipment reserve so that when large equipment fails, we are not forced to take out expensive emergency loans to purchase replacements. 

Required Water spending         $70,000
Required Sewer spending        $100,000
Rate Payer Assistance             $80,000
Operations and Maintenance  $60,000
Total Increase expenses          $310,000

Why are you so expensive?

In reality, we aren’t. Every municipality has different issues, so comparisons across the board truly aren’t apples to apples, but here is where we rank with our neighbors: (assuming water and sewer, ~3000 gallons of usage (4 units))

Water:

  • Newport  – $34.26
  • Lincoln City – $38.22
  • Waldport – $45.07
  • Toledo – $45.79
  • South West Lincoln – $56.02
  • Depoe Bay – $57.00
  • Seal Rock Water – $63
  • Yachats – $69.56*

Waste Water:

  • Depoe Bay – $43.50
  • Lincoln City – $55.05*
  • Newport – $57.95* (included $8.62 stormwater fee)
  • Yachats – $59.94
  • Waldport – $61.28
  • Toledo – $69.35
  • Seal Rock – No Sewer
  • South West Lincoln – No Sewer

* These numbers will be updated in a few months as rates for 2021 are posted. 

Will our rates increase more?

Yes. The reality is that we have $22 million (Now, $20 million as the city just got $2 million for water tanks from the state) in water and wastewater projects which should be accomplished in the next ten years. Much like most of the region, our plants were built roughly at the same time, and major work needs to be done to upkeep and renovate the plant to keep our water and wastewater treated – the requirements then were much less stringent than now. As well, we have over $3.5 million in pipe replacement required by the state to meet new guidelines in fire flow requirements (i.e. they require we get a lot more water to fire hydrants much faster and longer than in the past). This means pipes going from 2 inches to 6 inches to 12 inches in some cases. 

In order to qualify for the federal funding which often provides those large dollar amounts in grants or long term loans, we are required to meet adequate funding in our rate services. While we have been meeting operational costs over the years, we need to meet these higher requirements to ensure we are attractive to the USDA when we go through this process, so that we can get the best terms and most grant funding possible. 

In essence, we can pay a little more now each month, or a LOT more later. 

How come other cities aren’t doing this?

They are. Balancing the financial aspects of rate increases with the needs of the community is very difficult. Toledo was advised last year, for example, to raise rates almost $60. Newport has an $80 million dollar dam project on the horizon. And Seal Rock just spent millions on a water system upgrade. We are all in the same boat – there is more need than there are funds. Rates are going up across the entire county. The City can and will continue to do its best to be frugal, to be diligent in not wasting time as maintenance only costs more later, and in ensuring that money spent is going towards the best outcome per dollar it can. More importantly, we will continue to seek outside funds for as much of the work as possible.