Proposal gives citizens a chance to control sewer and water rates

City Commissioner Dan Saltzman proposed Monday creation of an independent utility commission to oversee rates and budgets for the city's water and sewer utilities.

The new board would be part of the city auditor's office. Saltzman said it would remove city commissioners and the mayor from proposing rates and budgets for the water and sewer bureaus. Instead, the commission would have five independent Portland residents with expertise in finance and utility management who could hold public hearings and propose water and sewer budgets and rates.

The new commission also would oversee utility rate expenditures, he said.

'This proposal would give independent, impartial citizens an unprecedented high-level of authority and oversight over rates that impact all Portland businesses and residents,' Saltzman said.

City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade said she was 'open to the idea' of the commission.

'I look forward to hearing any questions or recommendations the rest of City Council and interested community members might have prior to final decisions being made,' she said.

Saltzman is asking that the public weigh in on his proposal through June. He plans to seek City Council approval of the plan in July.

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