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UPDATE: Milwaukie budget includes utility hike

The Milwaukie City Council approved a $44.16 million budget for fiscal 2012 on June 7 containing a nearly 10-percent average hike in monthly utility bills - an increase of about $65 for the average homeowner.

The largest increase is 15.5 percent in water rates, followed by 7.5 percent in stormwater rates and 7 percent in wastewater rates, resulting in about $5.40 more per month for the average utility bill. The street maintenance fee will not increase.

Public testimony was taken at the council meeting, which began Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at 10722 S.E. Main St. An explanatory mailer went out with June utility bills.

Engineering Director Gary Parkin said the increases amount to about $500,000 per year per utility and are needed to keep pace with infrastructure improvements such as replacing aging pipe. He noted that the city had proposed larger increases, including an initial 30-percent hike in the water rate, but the Citizen Utility Advisory Board recommended lower levels.

"We really haven't had a rate that's provided enough money," Parkin said. "Some of these are behind. It's a bit of a catch-up for the first year and then you start maintaining."

Milwaukie will continue to offer qualified residential customers a Low Income Utility Program, with more information available by calling 503-786-7525. The proposed budget, including a spreadsheet detailing the utility funds, is posted at the city's website at www.ci.milwaukie.or.us.