CORRECTION: In the March 8 edition of The Creswell Chronicle regarding the newly proposed tiered rate design for Creswell, City Administrator Michelle Amberg was regrettably misquoted stating, ”The hope is to offset cost to our planet….” Amberg was not talking about the planet, but rather the water plant.
The Water Rate Advisory Committee (WRAC) presented City Council with a suggested change to the water and sewer rates for the 2018-19 fiscal year during this month’s work session.
A tiered rate system was proposed. Much like the new rate design seen by Emerald People’s Utility District this winter, the idea is to conserve resources.
Under this new design, those who consume more water would pay more; while those who use less would pay less, respectively.
The following rates were proposed for customers inside the city limits:
• In the first tier, from 0 to 800 cubic feet, it would cost $1.81 per hundred cubic feet.
• In the second tier, from 801 to 20,000 cubic feet, it would cost $3.94 per hundred cubic feet.
• In the third tier, anything over 20,000 cubic feet, it would cost $4.21 per hundred cubic feet.
These rates were proposed for customers outside the city limits:
• In the first tier, from 0 to 800 cubic feet, it would cost $2.61 per hundred cubic feet.
• In the second tier, from 801 to 20,000 cubic feet, it would cost $5.57 per hundred cubic feet
• In the third tier, anything over 20,000 cubic feet, it would cost $6.07 per hundred cubic feet.
The tiered rate design is based on a conservation model, City Administrator Michelle Amberg said.
”The hope is to offset any large increased cost to our planet or to our (water) wells and be able to conserve water – because it will cost more,” she said.
The committee wanted to ”find a model that is more fair to everyone involved… To change the way the base rate worked seemed more fair,” said WRAC community member Kevin Prociw.
These proposed changes would discontinue allowances for ”snowbirds” – those who leave town for the cold months – to shut off their water connections. On the east side of town, there are 12 snowbirds who turn off their water during the winter months and do not pay a base rate. With this proposed change, snowbirds would be charged a base rate, but won’t be responsible for paying a usage fee.
The base rate for water would be about $35 or $40, Council President Richard Zettervall calculated.
The money collected from the base rate would be intended to be used to help maintain the water systems, and would also help people conserve water and usage for filtration, Amberg said.
The proposed changes would also reduce the monthly base rate for a three-quarter-inch meter by $1.66.
The committee ”looked a lot at fixed income folks…and looked to make sure those on limited budgets wouldn’t be fiercely impacted,” WRAC community member Carol Woodland said.
The proposed changes would also add a rate for industrial users of $2.09 per hundred cubic feet. Creswell currently doesn’t have any industrial users, but the WRAC added the rate just in case that changes in the future, WRAC Chair and Councilor Martha McReynolds Jr. said.
In addition, the sewer monthly base rate would increase by $1.25.
Councilor Judy Drago said she was concerned when looking at the dramatic rate increase from the first tier to the second tier – a $2.13 increase from the first to the second tier.
”It’s a big jump,” she said, noting she likes to keep her lawn watered year-round, which may put her in the second tier category.
Councilor McReynolds Jr. said she has ”no sympathy” for those who like to keep their lawns green.
”Let the commercial user pay a higher commercial cost for their water,” McReynolds said, noting that only the ”rare commercial user” would cross over into the second tier.
”There’s a worldwide shortage of water, and this would suggest that we don’t have to water our lawns because we’re all burning up here,” WRAC community member Therese Brubaker said. ”We need to acknowledge the (world doesn’t) have an unlimited supply of water. As much as I hate that my lawn has to go, it’s a dormant plant. We have to quit watering (lawns) for the sake of pretty when we’re all contributing to the demise of the water supply.”
”You get a jug of milk for $4 and no one squawks, but you get a lot of water for $1.81 per 100 cubic feet,” McReynolds Jr. said.
”If it costs around three cents a gallon for water, that won’t kill you,” Zettervall said.
”I hope we all go forward and acknowledge we all have to be conservationists in order for this to work,” Brubaker said.