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Sources Say • City unlikely to give up water

The recent Portland city audit about water and sewer rate spending has sparked interest in creating an independent board to approve rate increases. The audit found the City Council has spent rate money on projects not directly related to water and sewer needs.

Then, a survey commissioned by a coalition of large water users found that 57 percent of city residents support removing the Water Bureau from the council and creating a separate Public Utility District. Commissioner Dan Saltzman has discussed the idea with members of a commission charged with proposing changes to the City Charter. But the question is not likely to appear on the ballot anytime soon, according to Co-chairman Mark White.

'The City Council has not given us enough money to take the issue to the public and they've indicated they won't give us any more,' White tells Sources. 'You can't just propose changes to the charter without properly vetting them.'

PTAs support school measures

With about a month to go before the May 17 election, the campaign in support of the two Portland Public Schools ballot measures has raised more than three-quarters of a million dollars. Portlanders for Schools reported collecting more than $786,000 at the beginning of the week, including $25,000 each from two more construction-related companies, Skanska USA Building of Beaverton and Ameresco Quantum of Renton, Wash. More than half the money has been spent with Media Analysis, a firm that places TV and radio advertising.

The committee is also raising a substantial amount of money from the Parent Teacher Associations at many Portland schools, including some that would not be remodeled by the $548 million construction bond. All would potentially benefit from the local option operating levy.

Contributions have ranged from $250 from the Richmond Elementary School PTA to $4,000 from the Irvington Elementary School PTA.

Campaign Manager Ben Unger says the contributions are legal because PTAs are membership organizations, not part of the school system.

River parties talk

Although city government and some Willamette Harbor businesses are still sparring over new environmental requirements in the city's River Plan, they are talking about the need to complete a state-required study of available land for future industry and other uses.

Representatives of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability met with harbor business owners last week to discuss the schedule for completing the Employment Opportunity Analysis that must be conducted as part of the city's current Comprehensive Plan update.

A 2009 draft Employment Opportunity Analysis predicted the city would fall 600 acres short of meeting its industrial land needs by 2035 - a fact the businesses cited when they successfully appealed the River Plan to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. But the business owners were reportedly impressed with the amount of work the city intends to put into completing the employment analysis by the end of the year.