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No water rate increase expected for 2014


City Council will wait to see results of water master plan

Sherwood residents most likely won’t see a 2-percent increase in their water rates in the coming year.

That was the consensus of the Sherwood City Council during a Tuesday night work session in a discussion that centered on the city having enough money to maintain its current water system and paying its debt service. While no official votes are permitted during work sessions, the council generally agreed they wanted to wait.

Ray Barlett, a consultant with Economic and Financial Analysis, said if the city didn’t raise water rates, increasing operating costs would put the city deeper in debt and suggested the possibility of anywhere from a 2 to 4 percent increase.

The city is in the process of updating its water master plan.

Julie Blums, the city’s finance director, suggested the city might ask for a 2 percent increase in January and then reevaluate that amount once the water master plan is completed. That amount would result in roughly a $1 per month increase on water bills for the average Sherwood resident.

However, several councilors questioned how much of an impact that amount would have, worrying about having to possibly go back to residents again if the water master plan showed a need for more revenue.

Councilor Robyn Folsom said the city raised water rates 7 percent two years ago and suggested that the city should hold off on increases until the master plan is completed to see what’s warranted.

“I would rather wait and get all the ducks in a row,” said Folsom. “I know it’s a buck but this is what (residents) hear: ‘blah, blah, blah… rate increase.’”

Voters approved using the Willamette River as its main source of water in 2005, drawing from a treatment facility in Wilsonville.

Also during the Tuesday work session, a YMCA representative discussed financial agreements between the city and the YMCA for use of the Y’s facilities. A current agreement allows the YMCA to charge 15 percent of adjusted gross revenue to cover or pay for management services such as human resources, information technology, risk management and business services, roughly $338,000 annually. Mayor Bill Middleton and other councilors asked for a more specific breakdown of what the money is used for with a request for a detailed contract from the agency in the future.

The city owns the YMCA building on Sunset Avenue but contracts with the agency to provide services such as equipment purchases and replacement. An agreement between the city and YMCA has been in effect since the “Y” opened in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile, during its regular meeting, the council approved forming a city charter review committee.

The committee is expected to consist of nine appointed members from each of the city’s boards and commissions, along with three citizens at large. Applications for citizen appointment can be submitted until Nov. 1 with appointments made Nov. 19.

The committee will then meet monthly, forwarding any suggested charter changes to the City Council who will ultimately decide whether to put them before voters in the May 2014 election, according to Councilor Linda Henderson, who is overseeing the charter committee.

Last changed in 2005, the charter is effectively the city’s constitution.

(This edition corrects an earlier version of this story.)