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On Wednesday, September 9th, a new sewer rate ordinance recently approved by the North Bend City Council went into effect.
The new ordinance will only impact the sewer rates of customers living within the Sallal Water Association service boundaries who are also connected to the city’s sewer system.
The ordinance was enacted due to action taken by the Sallal Water Association Board to cease providing water usage data to the City for its customers living within the North Bend city limits, hundreds of whom receive sewer service from the City.
Sallal had been providing that water usage information to North Bend for 13 years, which allowed the city to accurately charge sewer customers. The City has relied on this long-shared data to develop the most cost-effective sewer rates possible. The information is also critical to maintain the best and most accurate water and sewer volume calculation per customer.
As provided in the new ordinance, the city is implementing a new sewer rate system determined by the highest averaged usage instead of the actual water volume calculation, which will likely lead to a sewer rate increase for impacted customers.
The new, alternative sewer rate and billing system will ensure continued equity for all users. The last two years’ usage data from all customers within each rate class will be used to average and determine the new base rate. The new special classification has a higher administrative overhead cost, which future billing will also reflect.
Mayor McFarland commented, “While this measure was a necessary action by the city, it is very unfortunate for these ratepayers to be put in the position of having higher than needed expenses. We remain committed to resolving this situation with the Sallal Board so the best value can be delivered to all utility rate payers, city or Sallal.”
Customers impacted by the new ordinance were notified of the alternative rate and billing method via mail. The explanation letter from the City was sent on September 8th.
The decision to not share water usage data violated North Bend city code for water purveyors. The City Council revised that code by ordinance to clarify those legal obligations. The new ordinance may also result in fines of the Sallal Water Association.