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Ashland City Council approves rate increases

 Posted: 11:40 AM May 22, 2013

Water and sewer rates will both go up by 10 percent, and storm drain and transportation utility fees will each rise by 3 percent beginning on July 1.

The Ashland City Council approved the rate increases on Tuesday night.

The batch of rate and fee increases will cost the average residence an extra $6.30 each month, according to city staff.

"I don't think there's anything more critical than providing the infrastructure and planning needed to maintain our water supply," said Councilor Carol Voisin, who was among those voting for the increases.

Although the increases will be painful for low income residents, Voisin said all residents need and use city infrastructure.

Two residents came to the Tuesday meeting to speak against the increases.

Marilyn Briggs said residents are disgusted with the city's inability to live within its current revenues.

"You've got to draw the line now," she said.

Ashland faces years of water and sewer rate increases in order to meet regulatory requirements, maintain and upgrade its infrastructure and deal with inflation and rising costs.

A resident with an average monthly water bill of $38.97 in 2013, for example, will face an average monthly bill of $65.52 in 2022, according to a city table of projected rate increases.

In August, the council likely will have to consider raising electric rates in town, said Ashland Administrative Services and Finance Director Lee Tuneberg.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which wholesales electricity to the city's electric department, will be raising its rates.

City staff members don't yet know what the wholesale power rate increase will be, Tuneberg said.

— Vickie Aldous

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