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Estacada council discusses water rate hike

Staff proposes increase of

The City of Estacada may have to raise water rates after relying too heavily on new connections to give revenue streams a boost each year.

Estacada councilors will further discuss a staff recommendation to increase water rates by 13 to 26 percent, which would raise the average household's water bill by $3.45 to $7.

Over the past decade, the City's water revenues have increased, on average, by 4 percent annually, largely due to new customers, and operating expenses have increased at a rate of 8 percent per year.

'Our chemical costs have risen 235 percent during the past 10 years and our electric costs have doubled,' said Estacada City Manager Randy Ealy.

The City has raised its water rates twice in seven years. A 6 percent increase in August of 2001 increased the average monthly bill by $1.30. In July of 2005, a 13-percent hike added $3.20 to most bills.

'Not only are semi-regular rate increases necessary to keep up with basic operational costs, they also are needed to make repairs to the plant, reservoirs and distribution system,' Ealy said.

He and the city staff felt, he said, that to recommend a couple dollar, on average, monthly increase per household every two years was the 'least invasive way to keep up woth the plant's ongoing infrastructure expenses.'

The Estacada City Council will again review staff recommendations at its regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 475 S.E. Main St.