LA PINE, OR -- La Pine city officials are following Bend’s lead and is revisiting how it calculates water and sewer rates. City councilors will begin the discussion Thursday afternoon during a work session with the same consulting firm used by the city of Bend. Interim City Manager Rick Allen tells KBND News, the current rate structure was created prior to the city taking over the water district. "One of the problems is, La Pine hasn’t raised the water rates since the district formed the water district 14 years ago. So, when you don’t raise it with inflation and you freeze it for 14 years, even if inflation is only a percent or two a year, when it’s 14 years, that’s 25-30% increase." Allen says, "We decided the city is taking that over, and we need to know where are we with water and sewer rates, are we funding them properly today, and are we building the capacity we’ll need for the future."
He says the changes are really about fairness, "Under the current system for charging for sewers, take a restaurant for example: If it has 50 seats, and the restaurant next door has 50 seats, but one only opens at night and closes at 9 and has no bar and the other one is open 24 hours a day. It’s reasonable to think that one that’s open 24/7 puts way more water down the sewer, but it doesn’t matter how much you use." He says those two restaurants would be paying the same for water and sewer services, "So, what happens is, the one that’s only open a few hours a day subsidizes the one that’s open 24 hours a day."
Thursday’s meeting begins at 1:30 and is open to the public, but Allen says no public comment will be taken, nor will councilors vote on any recommendations. He says there will be other opportunities for comment prior to any rate changes, which could take effect as early as July.