The Molalla City Council unanimously voted to approve a sewer and stormwater fee rate increase of 6.48 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively, during the June 14 regular council meeting.
Current average monthly rates for city of Molalla customers equal $53.80 for sewer and $3 for stormwater services, city documents show.
The rate increase will amount to $3.49 and 61 cents per month for sewer and stormwater, respectively, for a single-family home using on average 600 cubic feet of water each month, but fees will vary depending on how much individual customers use, Mayor Jimmy Thompson said.
"People may see more or less of an increase than $3.49 per month," Thompson said. "I want to make sure (the public is) clear on that. We're looking at a 6.48 percent increase on sewer and a 20.3 percent increase on stormwater. That's an average increase per month, so if you see a larger or smaller increase it can be a little confusing."
Without the increased fees, a public works capital project involving a $180,000 county-funded community development block grant could not be completed -- revenue generated from the increased utility rates will pay for the 25 percent match funding required to receive the block grant -- Thompson said.
The project calls for the reconstruction of Fenton Avenue, which is located just east of downtown Molalla. The city plans to rebuild the sanitary sewer lines that runs underground and parallel to Fenton Avenue, including installation of a new stormwater sewer system, the extension of a new waterline, and reconstruction of the road with new curbs, gutters and sidewalks, city documents show.
The community development block grant originally was going to be used to fund improvements to what Public Works Director Gerald Fisher referred to as "the Lola Avenue neighborhood," which in his assertion stretches along Lola Avenue from East Fifth Street to E. Third Street.
The median household income along that two-block stretch of Lola Avenue, however, is too high to meet the county's lower minimum-income requirements to receive block grant funding for capital improvement projects, city documents state.
City Councilor Glen Boreth said he was in favor of moving improvements from Lola Avenue to Fenton Avenue so that the city will be awarded the $180,000 grant, which Thompson said the city "already has completed the work required" to receive.
"I want to point out to (Molalla's) population that with the grant funding tied to this, it would not be in our best interest to let that grant funding go," Boreth said. "Anytime you can get money from outside the city for free we should use it."
The council also discussed increasing rates for sewer services by as much as 8.72 percent, 22.7 percent and 24.94 percent, which would pay for other capital improvements, including removing sediment buildup within the wastewater treatment plant aeration basin, as well as relining that basin, and to pay for the aforementioned Lola Avenue project. Ultimately, though, the council decided to wait until the city completes its ongoing, detailed rate study and audit analysis.