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The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
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April 11, 2012     The New Era Paper
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April 11, 2012
 

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I i", "ra - April 1 I, 2012 VOUR CO/HMUNITV Page 13 Photo by Scott Swanson Beautification under way Volunteers, from left, Gina Riley, Robbie Kruesi and Darlene VavRosky, work on the median along Main Street during the Beautification Commit- tee's first bi-monthly work day of the year Tuesday, April 3. Photo courtesy of Brian Hoffman Getting set to head out to work on the medians are, from left, Craig Martin, Patrick Ferebee, Bonnie Healy, Patty Holk, Mayor Craig Fentiman, Alice Grovom, Phyllis Osborn-Smith, Arlene Pachen, Darlene VavRosky, Robbi Hipp and Jerry Smith. For information on volunteering, contact Grovom at (541) 367-5231. 1 Rates From page 1 most residents using 400 cubic feet or less. This means the bulk of the in- crease in water and sewer bills will be the cost per 100 cubic feet for sewer service. At 600 cubic feet, which is near the current average use by Sweet Home residents, water and sewer utilities will cost $73.12 per month, an increase of 5.54 percent from $69.28. At 700 cubic feet, the old av- erage, bills will increase by 7.01 percent from $81.05 to $86.73 per month. For homes using 1,000 cubic feet, bills will increase from $116.36 to $127.56, or 9.63 percent. At 1,500 cubic feet, bills increase from $175.21 to $195.61,11.64 percent. When calculating bills each month, the city rounds down to the nearest 100 cubic feet used. The city also does not charge for the first 400 cubic feet, which is reflected in a higher price per 100 cubic feet. The percentage increase residential customers will pay varies because the first 400 cubic feet is not billed, while the cost of that water produc- tion is rolled into the price per 100 cubic feet. To calculate your bill, subtract 400 cubic feet from the total used to find the number of billable 100 cu- bic feet. Add the base rates, $17.90 and $28. Multiply the number of billable 100 cubic feet by $5.95 for water and $7.66 for sewer. Com- bine the two numbers. For example, at 800 cubic feet, subtract 400, leaving four billable 100 cubic feet. Add the two base rates together to reach $45.90. Multiply four by $5.95 for water and $7.66 for sewer to find totals of $23.80 for water and $30.64 for sewer. Combine the two to find $54.44 in charges per 100 cubic feet. Combine $54.44 with the base charge of $45.90 to determine your bill, which would be $100.34 under the proposed rates. On top of the sewer and water bill, the city adds a $1 charge for most customers for storm water drainage. The rates are calculated based On the actual cost of providing wa- ter and sewer services, Adams said. The proposed rate structure doesn't account for upcoming ex- penditures the city will have to make in the sewer system. The city faces a wastewater treatment plant expansion to meet requirements imposed by the Ore- gon Department of Environmental Quality that prohibit any bypassing of untreated wastewater into the South Santiam River. something that can occur due to inflow and in- filtration during heavy rain events. Inflow and infiltration is storm wa- ter that leaks into and overloads the sewer system through deteriorated pipes and cross connections with storm drains. Adams also proposed two higher rate options, which at 700 cubic feet, for example, would have increased the total water and sewer bill by 9.21 percent. At 600, the highest proposed rates would have increased the bill by 7.69 percent. The council rejected any rate increase on the water side. "I'm looking at any way to try to keep the rates down," said Mayor Craig Fentiman, noting that the economic conditions don't make him eager to approve increases. The city can achieve this with the water rate by decreasing the wa- ter service contingency by $1 64,000, Adams said. On the sewer side, "the carryover we've got now is being utilized We just don't have enough carryover to forgo an increase." Councilor Scott McKee Jr. said he wants customers to know the city is trying to work with them on rates. and he doesn't think it's a good time to "stick it to them." He is a student and his wife has not been employed for two years. McKee said, adding that that is probably influencing his thoughts, but he knows he's not the only one in that situation in the Sweet Home community. "The situation with the econ- omy is weighing heavily on me," McKee said. He feels "passionate- ly" about keeping the water rate the same, but doesn't want to cut the utilities short either, he said. The councilors agreed unani- mously to hold the line on the wa- ter rate while increasing the sewer rate. 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