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The council revised down its rate increase in response to negative feedback from residents.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Forest Grove City HallThe Forest Grove City Council voted unanimously Monday night, Sept. 27, to raise electricity rates across the city by 3.5% for both residents and commercial businesses beginning in January.

The council started the meeting with a proposal to raise rates for residents by 4.6% and for businesses by 3.5% in November. Pushback during the public comment period and from councilors Mariana Valenzuela and Donna Gustafson prompted the council to even out the planned increase.

"The city is attempting to pass the largest share of the burden to residents," Forest Grove resident Lance Taylor said in a public comment. "Whose interests are really being served when the city does that?'

Valenzuela said she was forced to sell a home due to unaffordable electric bills, while Gustafson said as a single mother of four, she is constantly asking kids to turn off lights in order to save money.

Forest Grove finance director Paul Downey said the disparity in the proposed increase — higher for residents than for businesses — was due to the fact that the cost to service and maintain residential electricity is higher than the cost for businesses.

Currently, Downey said, Forest Grove is waiting for $1,300 in electric bills across the city that are past due over the past 60 days.

Mayor Peter Truax voted for the amended rates but cautioned against passing on inevitable increases to the future. 

"I was on the council in the early 2000s when we got hit with a huge electrical increase because the previous council had decided they didn't need to increase the electricity fees for a number of cycles," Truax said. "We then had to take a good deal of heat for increases of around 7 or 8 percent for a few years."


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