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Tigard will see water bills increase

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, residents in Tigard, Bull Mountain, King City and Durham can expect to see the fifth straight year of double-digit increases to their water bills.

On Tuesday, the Tigard City Council approved a 10.5 percent increase in rates for next year, meaning the average ratepayer will be spending about $4.80 more each month for water.

Tuesday’s action sets the course for the next five years of increased water rates.

The council’s plan also calls for 3.25 percent rate increases — or about $1.50 increases for ratepayers — from 2016 through 2019.

The council began discussing options for water-rate increases last month.

The rate hikes are part of a plan to pay for the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership — a yearslong plan to rehabilitate and increase capacity at Lake Oswego’s water treatment facility in West Linn, which Tigard would jointly own.

Last year, the council bought an additional share of the project, which is expected to bring in an additional 4 million more gallons per day to the city.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook said the rate increase will not only pay off the water agreement in Lake Oswego, but will also bank some extra cash for future capital projects beginning in 2019.

“We bought an extra 4 (million gallons per day) and we have to figure out a way to pay for that,” Cook said.

Tigard provides water to most of its residents, as well as Bull Mountain, King City and Durham. The increased rates were met with approval from the Intergovernmental Water Board, an elected board representing each of the communities, said John Goodrich, Tigard’s interim assistant public works director.

Anyone who gets their water from the city of Tigard is no stranger to rising costs. Water rates have been more than doubled in order to pay off the currently-under-construction Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership.

In 2010, the average ratepayer in Tigard paid about $29 a month for water. That number has risen in the past four years to $41.51.

In that time, Tigard city officials have received calls from concerned residents about the increased water rates, and Cook said it’s hard to say if rates will go back down.

“When people were first told that water rates would double (in 2010), there was a belief that it would go back to a set water rate in the future,” Cook said. “I won’t tell people today what the water rates will be six years from now because there will be a new council here deciding that. Too many things change.”

City Council President Marland Henderson was the lone dissenting vote against the increased rate.

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