City looking to adjust water, sewer rates

City looking to adjust water, sewer rates

The Cannon Beach City Council at a work session has tentatively selected a new billing structure for its water and sewer services, according to the city.

The council has yet to put it to a vote, which it will do at its council meeting next month, said Karen La Bonte, city public works director, in an email Tuesday.

Scenario #5 is the structure plan council selected tentatively out a group of five, La Bonte said.

She said while she cannot speak for the council, she “surmises” that they selected scenario #5 because “this is the cleanest most simple way to make it equitable for all users.  Everyone pays a base rate based on their meter size, then they pay a rate for the water they use above and beyond that base rate.  In other words, you use more, you pay more.  Everyone is treated the same that way.  Again, I can’t speak for the Council, but I know that the Public Works Committee who worked on this, leaned towards that option because it was simple and easy to explain to all the users and everyone was on a more even playing field when charged for water use.”

Scenario #5 is discussed in the Cannon Beach Utility Rate Policy Discussion dated Nov. 5 on the city website.

Over the past few months, the council reviewed the different ways to structure its water and sewer services billing in an effort to find a more equitable way to distribute the charges, as stated on the city website.

Under the existing structure, residential and commercial users are using about the same amount of service or usage but residential was generating about 59 percent of the revenue and commercial about 41 percent, as stated in a presentation, which is on the city website.

By looking at different billing scenarios, the council’s intent was to “find a more equitable distribution of services between audience members (commercial, residential, multifamily, etc.), not an exercise to increase revenue,” La Bonte said. In other words, the goal was to bill customers more equitably.

She said “the percentage between residential and commercial would be more evenly aligned under the new scenario,” so that each would pay about the same amount for the same amount of usage.

One distinction: Under scenario #5, residential customers with 1" meters would pay much more for water and sewer services than previously, altho the city can offer the option of changing out the meter size to 3/4" at a price, the presentation states.

“The 1” meter customers would pay more for the larger meter size, however they could elect to reduce the size of their meter with a plumbing official sign-off stating it still meets building code requirement,” La Bonte said. “This change out would be at the homeowner’s expense.”

A discussion of the four other billing scenarios is in the Cannon Beach Rate Structure Analysis dated February 12, 2019 on the city website.

The city plans to put the new plan into its FYE 2020/2021 budget, the November presentation states.

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