Hillsboro seeks public comments on proposed water rate increases
Hillsboro residents could see their water rates increase by close to 9% each month, under a new proposal from the city's water department.
Single-family residential customers would see their rates increase by 8.8%, according to a statement from the city asking for public comments on the proposal Wednesday, Sept. 1.
More than 80% of Hillsboro's single-family residential customers use about 6,000 gallons of water per month and currently pay about $39.08 per month, according to city officials.
Those customers with that level of water usage would see their bills increase by $3.44.
Other water customers, including multi-family residential buildings and complexes, public facilities, commercial entities, and nonprofits, would see an increase of 10.5%.
Customers using water for irrigation would see their rate increase by 14.9%.
Every year, the Hillsboro Utilities Commission establishes and approves new water rates after meeting to discuss adjustments and receiving public comments.
The proposed rate increases by the Hillsboro Water Department for 2022 are similar to those of last year.
The city said the actual percentage increase on a customer's bill may vary based on meter size and individual usage patterns.
The city said the increases are necessary to continue providing safe water to more than 88,000 affected customers, maintain and replace the city's aging water infrastructure, improve the current system's seismic reliability, and construct a water pipeline from the Willamette River in Wilsonville.
Public comments on the proposed rate increases will be accepted all month, as well as at a hearing in early October.
People can provide feedback in several ways:
• Online at hillsboro-oregon.gov/waterrates.
• Via phone at 503-615-6702.
• By mail to 150 E. Main St., Third Floor, Hillsboro, OR 97123.
• On the city's social media pages on Twitter and Facebook.
• At the utility commission's upcoming monthly meeting and a community conversation about the rates on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
• At a public hearing about the rate increases on Monday, Oct. 4.
Meeting details are available at hillsboro-oregon.gov/waterrates.
The utility commission will review public comments and vote on the proposed rates at its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, where people are invited to attend.
If approved, water rate adjustments will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
Officials encourage residents who are having trouble paying their utility bill to explore whether they're eligible for a flexible pay plan or bill relief option. Details for such programs are available at hillsboro-oregon.gov/utilityassistance or by phone at 503-681-6163.
Hillsboro's water supply system is funded solely by water rates and systems development charges, which the city collects when new properties are developed. Tax revenue placed in the city's general fund doesn't contribute to the water system.
According to data from the city last year, single-family residential customers account for 90% of all city accounts and use 23.4% of the city's total water. They currently contribute 31.8% of the city's customer revenue for the water system.
Industrial customers used nearly half of the city's total water usage and contributed 39.7% of the city's customer revenue for the water system, according to last year's data.
Hillsboro water customers pay among the lowest rates in the region for water. The average single-family residential customer in Portland pays nearly $64 per month, while such customers in Beaverton pay more than $44.
In addition to typical operating costs and future repairs to water infrastructure, the rate increases would contribute to the city's portion of the new Willamette Water Supply System project.
The $1.3 billion project is a partnership between Hillsboro, Beaverton and the Tualatin Valley Water District. Hillsboro is set to pay for 36% of the project, which will include building more than 30 miles of water pipeline from the Willamette River traveling north from Wilsonville, through Beaverton, and into Hillsboro.
The project will create a new drinking water source as Hillsboro anticipates continued population growth, including an additional 20,000 residents in the South Hillsboro area over the next 20 years.
The Willamette Water Supply System is expected to be completed in 2026.
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