Portland City Council approved a one-time 15% rate increase for water and a one-time 8% increase for wastewater at its meeting on Monday night. Then beginning next year there will be an increase of 2 ½ % annually for water and a 2 ½ % increase for wastewater. While the increase percentage may seem rather high, Mindy Tolan, City of Portland CFO told the Beacon that the average residential household will see an approximate increase of only about $3.50 per month on their water bill and about a $3.50 per month increase on their wastewater bill beginning with their August billing. The City currently serves almost nineteen hundred water and sewer customers.
The rate increase recommendation came from Baker Tilley LLC, an International municipal consultant firm, headquartered in Chicago with an office in East Lansing. Baker Tilley recently completed a months long water and sewer rate analysis and discovered that Portland’s rates for both were on the low side compared to cities of similar size.
The increases are necessary, according to City Manager Tutt Gorman, to improve and maintain Portland’s infrastructure. City Council also approved a proactive “Capital Improvement Plan 2020-2025” that includes investing $8,855,000 in Water and Wastewater Treatment projects.
$ 2,000,000 will help fund City of Portland water system improvements, over the next six years, including water main replacements throughout the city that will be coordinated to occur with currently scheduled roadway improvements. An estimated $600,000, of the $2,000,000 will be for new well development including securing a new site and the purchase of new generator and related equipment.
$ 6,855,000 will help fund Wastewater Treatment Facility and Lift Station improvements as well as a seemingly inevitable Wastewater Treatment Facility Expansion. The funds will also be used for sewer improvements that will be coordinated with currently scheduled roadway improvements. The City is also planning to purchase a new Vactor Truck, at a cost of $450,000, within the next several months.
Portland Mayor Jim Barnes.
Mayor Jim Barnes told the Beacon that “Of all the services city provides for residents, ultimately the most important service is a fresh supply of water and a safe and efficient means of disposing waste. The Council as city stewards realize that it’s very important to provide these services to current users and ultimately to be prepared for the expansion of new users.” Barnes noted that the new rate study by Baker Tilly was very helpful in the Council’s decision to increase water and sewer rates. Barnes said, “Nobody really likes rate increases but we cannot underestimate the city’s important infrastructure.”