The Clean Water Services' Board of Directors will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, June 16 to consider the proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budget, which would increase sewer and Surface Water Management (SWM) rates by 3.65 percent or $1.69 per month for the average residential customer in urban Washington County. The proposed budget funds CWS operations and $66 million of investments to protect public health, the environment and clean water in the Tualatin River Watershed. On May 8, the Clean Water Services' Budget Committee met to review the budget, receive public comment and recommended the proposed budget to the Board for adoption.
Public comment is welcome when the Board of Directors meets for a public hearing during their regular meeting beginning at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, June 16 in the auditorium at the Public Services Building, 155 N. First Avenue in Hillsboro. The complete budget is available for review on Clean Water Services website at cleanwaterservices.org/budget.
Clean Water Services' draft budget includes two proposed rate increases, which would be effective July 1, 2015:
Clean Water Services' Board of Directors sets the districtwide sanitary sewer and SWM rates for urban Washington County customers. Washington County Cities adopt the rates and have the ability to add local surcharges to meet additional local needs. The rate income is shared proportionally between Clean Water Services and its member Cities. The utility fees protect clean water and the Tualatin River and its tributaries through innovative wastewater treatment and stormwater management for more than 560,000 people in urban Washington County.
The rate increases are necessary to expand, replace and upgrade aging infrastructure; to fund operations and maintenance of the public drainage system; and to meet some of the most stringent state and federal pollution control requirements in the nation.
"Despite a growing customer base and increased costs, we have been able to hold rate increases down by utilizing new technologies and developing partnerships with public, private and community partners," said General Manager Bill Gaffi. "The community's investment is paying off for our ratepayers and the environment—studies show the Tualatin River is healthier today than it's been in generations, and we're able to deliver these services at some of the most reasonable rates in the region."
Clean Water Services' Proposed Fiscal Year 2015-16 Budget includes the following major components: $64.6 million for operating expenses; $66 million for capital construction; and $26.1 million for debt service on bonds that help pay for past, current and planned infrastructure investments. Primary revenues include $124.9 million from sewer and surface water rates and $16.1 million from System Development Charges (SDCs). The proposed budget also includes $50 million in funds from a planned bond sale.
Clean Water Services has worked to reduce the long-term operating costs of the utility by using new technology and reorganizing the workforce. Despite increasingly stringent state and federal pollution control requirements and a growing service district, Clean Water Services has reduced the number of employees per customer served from a high of nine employees per 10,000 residents in 1998 to less than six employees per 10,000 today. The proposed operating budget increased 4.4 percent and adds 10 full time positions, increasing the number of employees to 329 from 319.
Capital construction is funded by rates, SDCs and bond proceeds. To ensure new development pays a reasonable share of capital costs related to growth, the District is also recommending a $200 or 4 percent increase in the one-time sanitary sewer SDC per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU). The sanitary sewer SDC would increase from $4,900 to $5,100 per EDU. There is no proposed increase in the SWM SDC, which would remain $500 per unit. The proposed capital budget includes $66 million to upgrade, replace and expand aging infrastructure, and improve water quality in the Tualatin River and its tributaries. Major investments include:
Clean Water Services is a water resources management utility for more than 560,000 people in urban Washington County and small portions of Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Lake Oswego and Portland. Clean Water Services operates four treatment facilities, constructs and maintains drainage management and water quality projects, and manages flow in the Tualatin River to improve water quality and protect fish habitat. Although Clean Water Services maintains a close working relationship with Washington County government, it is a separately managed and financed public utility.
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Government & Public Affairs Manager
Clean Water Services