Hermiston Energy Services customers could see a $2 increase in their monthly bill.

The Hermiston City Council will consider a recommendation for a rate increase during their council meeting on Monday. The regular 7 p.m. meeting at city hall will be preceded by a work session at 6 p.m. to discuss a cost analysis for Hermiston Energy Services.

According to a memo in the agenda packet by HES general manager Nate Rivera, buying wholesale power from Bonneville Power Administration comprises 52 percent of the utility’s budget. BPA has raised the cost of wholesale power 38 percent over the past nine years.

The council last approved a rate adjustment in 2016. On Monday they will consider increasing the base rate for residential customers from $14 to $16 and the base rate for industrial customers from $200 to $250 starting Jan. 1.

The council will also consider updates to HES policies, include an option to pre-pay for service.

On Monday, the council will also discuss increasing the taxi vouchers for senior and disabled riders from $2 to $2.50. The program allows senior citizens and disabled residents to purchase discounted tickets for one-way taxi rides, while the city subsidizes the rest of the cost of the ride.

According to a memo by Assistant City Manager Mark Morgan, the city subsidized about 17,500 taxi rides in 2016 and 2017 but is on track to pay for almost 23,000 this year, which would put the city about $27,000 over budget.

The city also provides a free bus service known as the HART. The HART has provided more than 8,000 rides during 2018 through October, putting it on pace to triple the number of riders from 2017. Morgan said those riders seem to be new to public transit, however, instead of people who have switched from using the taxi tickets to using the bus.

Monday’s council meeting will also include the October financial report, committee appointments, committee reports and an executive session to discuss labor negotiations. The full agenda packet can be found online at hermiston.or.us/meetings.

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Contact Jade McDowell at jmcdowell@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4536.

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