At the July 14 TVWD board meeting, commissioners voted unanimously to raise the water rates for next year by 1.7 %. For about 95% of customers that amounts to less than $6 per year, but why this rate increase? In the middle of a downturn, how can a utility raise rates?
The recession has also brought the water district a drop in revenue. The reduced rate of increase of new customers moving into the area, amazing conservation among residential users, reduced irrigation due to the cooler weather, reduced interest income on investments, and a drop in system development charges impact revenue. At the same time, this area is facing a national infrastructure challenge as reservoirs, pumping stations and pipelines built in the 1960’s and ‘70’s need to be replaced. Even though the Hagg Lake Dam project is on hold awaiting federal approval, many capital improvement projects in our neighborhoods need funding.
Last year, the board anticipated a rate hike this year of over 9% because of these trends, but our staff worked hard last year and found $1.33 million of savings from many new approaches. There will also be a slight adjustment to other charges to recoup the cost of these extra services from the few who require them.
Since water is a necessity for drinking, sanitation, cooking, fire control, irrigation, and industrial uses, it is vital that dependable funding remains in place. To attract business to the area, and to protect public health, an ample dependable water supply is necessary.
How does TVWD compare with the surrounding cities? The new rate will result in lower charges than Portland, Sherwood, Wilsonville, Tigard and parts of Hillsboro. Fortunately, the water conservation improvements many residents have adopted will keep the rates low and the service outstanding.
The rate change is scheduled to go into effect November 1, after the summer watering season.