In regards to high water and sewer rates in Pendleton, some people have the wrong answers. First, most of your utility bill is not from water usage. On my $77.20 bill only $3.40 is for water usage. If you cut down on water usage it makes little difference on your total bill.
The biggest part of your bill is the charge for sewer, $39.15. This stays the same all year. A lot of this charge is for the improvements to the treatment plant. Next is base water rate, $26.85, another year-round charge. A lot of this charge is for replacing old lines and installing larger lines to the airport.
Next is public safety charge, $2.65, for fire equipment and police cars, etc. This is in addition to your property tax for the $10 million fire bond. Last is street utility, $5.15, for street repair. Streets have been a low priority for the city for years, but now they are trying to catch up with our money.
When you tie a service to a utility, the city can raise the cost to users at any time, without a vote of residents. And by tying the rates to Portland construction costs, the city council does not even have to vote on these rate increases. Very nice for council members to not have to endorse the rate increases.
It is much easier for government to raise fees then to cut parts of their budget. It is up to us, the residents of Pendleton. As long as we put up with ever increasing fees and voting for giant bond issues, Pendleton will never reach its full potential. We will keep bumping along with low growth and ever-higher cost of living.
Elections are coming in May 2018 for city council and higher county taxes. It’s up to you if you like the status quo or want Pendleton to move forward.
Rex J. Morehouse