Despite pleas that they try to fund major sewer and water system improvements using urban renewal, general fund or other sources, the Newport City Council swallowed hard and then voted to raise sewer and water rates 15% again July 1st, with smaller increases for infrastructure and storm drain improvements.
Public Works Director Tim Gross said the situation hasn’t changed – the city’s in big trouble with it’s sewer and water delivery system and that 75 years of neglect has to be addressed before larger pipe failures become common and ever more expensive to fix. Gross has said in the past that the council has a choice of spending big money on fixing old pipe, or spending big money on new pipe. Either way, it’s big money if we want to have a functioning city.
As a consolation for those least able to afford the increase, several councilors will begin meeting after July 1st in an effort to track down as many sources of money as they can find – loans, grants, urban renewal, general fund – to soften the increases that will surely come again in July of 2014. Gross said there is very little grant money out there to help communities because most communities in Oregon are in the same pickle – long neglected infrastructure that is now failing.