MONMOUTH -- Residents will likely see a significant hike in their overall utility bills in the coming months.
City staff is recommending annual increases to user rates over the next few years for municipal water, sewer and power systems to cover costs of needed capital projects and build up low reserve totals in some funds.
The sewer rate for residential service in Monmouth would grow by 15 percent, to an annual cost of about $333 per residential unit.
Total monthly water bills will grow by 6 percent, with flat fees for 5/8- and 3/4-inch residential water lines increasing to $10.10 and the water rate to $1.45 per cubic foot.
Power costs will jump by 5 percent. The new base fee will be $9.93; the energy rate is 7.05 cents per kilowatt hour.
Total average monthly utility bills would increase by about $9, officials said.
Monmouth City Council approved similar rate hikes last year and will consider the new schedule in June.
Monmouth City Manager Scott McClure said the decision would set annual increases at the above rates for the next two years for electricity and three years for water and sewer, starting in July.
"We would rather do small rate increases continually than waiting for a few years and hitting customers with a large one," McClure said.
According to a staff report, the sewer system will require $2.5 million in improvements -- ranging from modifications of the existing lagoon system to a brand new treatment facility -- in about two years to meet user capacity. Only $1.2 million in revenue is projected during that time.
"Our sewer fund has marginal reserves," McClure said. "We're trying to get rates up to get cash in the bank for a couple of years to (cover) the project."
Water rate revenues will be used to bring a new municipal well online this summer and develop another reservoir on Cupid's Knoll.
The power rate hike would help cover the cost of a new transmission line and substation in the southern part of the city.
McClure said a decrease for wholesale electricity customers such as Monmouth through Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) residential exchange program and a BPA agreement to improve fish and wildlife habitat near dams are other factors influencing the rate change.
The increase would grow the city's electric reserve fund, which in turn, could be passed on to local customers as savings during the next spike on wholesale power prices, he said.