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OC's water rollback issue closely contested

Voters amended the Oregon City Charter so water rates will no longer roll back to 1994 levels, after close early results showing a 51.8 to 48.2 percent margin held in later returns in the Tuesday night election.

“We’re very excited that it passed,” said City Commissioner Betty Mumm. “It would have been horrible if it didn’t pass.”

According to Dan Holladay, chief petitioner of a 1996 amendment that added Section 58, it was never the intent to create the impending crisis to roll back rates 20 years later. But because of a court decision to protect bond holders, the rates were not rolled back. As the bonds are scheduled to be paid back in 2014, the rates were also scheduled to be rolled back as well.

Aleta Froman-Goodrich of the Public Works Department showed City Commission the danger of a rollback starting the 2015-16 fiscal year, when operating revenue would exceed expenses and there would be no funding for capital projects for more than five years thereafter. Referring the anti-rollback measure to voters, commissioners feared the current revenue from water rates, nearing $6 million, suddenly would drop below $4 million.

There was no arguments filed in opposition to Measure 3-423.

For now, city commissioners say that water rates will remain the same as they are today with an annual maximum rate increase of 3 percent. Commissioners had considered asking voters for a second measure that would have allowed increases larger than 3 percent.

Mumm said the next step is to do a wrap-up meeting and let everyone celebrate the moment.

News Editor Raymond Rendleman contributed to this report.



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