Albany residents will pay more for sewer service starting July 1. The city council Wednesday had a choice of increasing the rates 6 or 8 percent, and by a vote of 4-2 it chose the more expensive option. Ward III Councilors Bessie Johnson and Rich Kellum were against it but were outvoted.
As the discussion showed, the council majority was motivated by the need to generate more money for repairs and expansion of the sewer system, in addition to the continuing operating expenses and debt service on the city treatment plant and Talking Water Gardens. Similar increases are projected for the following couple of years.
Kellum argued for the smaller increase because sewer revenue during the fiscal year ending this month is running about 1 percent ahead of the budget. But Floyd Collins and others pushed for more revenue in order to build up reserves that will be needed for enlarging the Cox Creek interceptor, already too small for the area it serves on the east side of town, and the Water Avenue interceptor, which is said to be in need of an upgrade that’s been estimated to cost $10 million. The pipe drains wastewater from much of the older sections of town and is buried 35 feet deep along the Willamette River.
The 8 percent increase will raise the average city utility bill by about $3 a month. Combined water and sewer rates in the city will run from about $92 a month for 600 cubic feet of water to $121 a month for 1,600 cubic feet of water.
Depending on the amount of water used, Albany has the 10th or 11th highest combined water and sewer bills among Oregon cities listed on a table Public Works Director Mark Shepard showed the council. Portland had the highest bills, and charges also were higher than Albany’s in Lebanon and Sweet Home. In Corvallis, though, the bills were about $30 a month lower than in Albany. (hh)