Scappoose City Council chose to raise the city's water rates at a Sept. 19 public hearing that no residents attended.

The new rate - up five cents to $0.38 per 100 gallons of water used - goes into effect Sept. 21 and will be reflected on the next bill. The bi-monthly base rate will stay the same. If you use 10,000 gallons of water your bill will increase by $5.

Although there was no one at the meeting to voice their opinions on the increase, city councilors continued a debate that has been ongoing since last year. That's when city staff began to plead their case that there should be some increase in rates to offset ongoing debt payments and maintenance to the water system.

An advisory committee met over seven months to come up with a recommendation that would help the city work toward a balanced water fund. More increases may come in the near future.

'This was the minimum we felt we could do,' said Scappoose Mayor Scott Burge who sat on the committee. 'I hate raising rates.'

The city last increased water costs in 2006.

City water supervisor Joe Lewis estimates the increase will bring in around $87,000 in revenue a year for the water fund, which has a $2 million budget, but $500,000 in loan payments a year.

Councilors Donna Gedlich and Jeff Erickson both voted against the increase, saying it is not the right time to put more burden on residents and business owners, many who are struggling.

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