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Council votes to increase fees for water, wastewater, SandyNet, stormwater, other fees

After hours of discussion, Sandy City Council has adopted changes to utility fees and also amended codes related to people camping in public spaces, mainly those experiencing homelessness.

Utilities to be affected by fee increases include wastewater, water, stormwater, SandyNet, building, planning and records request fees.

As the city moves forward to rectify problems with inflow and infiltration in the existing wastewater system and plan for a new system to accommodate the community's growth, Council has approved a 10% increase to wastewater fees. For the average single-family home, this will take their monthly bill from $23.70 to $26.07, an increase of 61 cents per 100 cubic feet of water.

As proposed by staff in the June 6 meeting, there will be an 8% increase in water rates in 2022, followed by a 41% increase in 2023 and three years of 36% increases. The initial increase will take the bill of the average single-family home (which uses 7 centrum cubic feet of water) from $30.01 in 2022 to $106.45 in 2026, according to the rate model shared by staff. Commercial and industrial customers would be similarly impacted.

According to the staff presentation, "rate increases are required primarily to keep up with new debt service to fund capital projects."

The stormwater fee will increase from $3 to $5 a month. According to the provided staff report, this "will allow for the building of a capital funds for future projects and operations (and) future rate increases (are) projected to work towards a financially sustainable utility." This increase would also mean a $116,000 increase in annual revenue for the city.

As the city grows and more people sign on for Sandy's unique city-operated internet service, SandyNet has some proposed cost increases of its own. On June 6, SandyNet director Greg Brewster brought a list of desired changes to council, including the following:

  • An increase in price for the 300/300 Mbps service from $41.95 to $44.95 coupled with a speed increase to 500/500 Mbps

  • A new offer of multi-gigabit service tiers in new developments to allow for the provider to begin a transition for the existing network
  • 2/2 Gbps for $110
  • 5/5 Gbps for $225
  • At this time, the average 7 CCF Sandy resident's utility bill — which includes charges for water, sewer, stormwater, SandyNet (if they're a customer) and the public safety fee — remains comparable to those seen in Tualatin with the average Tualatin customer paying $103.97 a month to their Sandy neighbor's $104.26. When compared on scale with a handful of nearby Oregon cities, including Lake Oswego at the high end with a bill of $162.57 a month, and Fairview at the low end with a bill of $83.66 a month, Sandy's current rates fall in the lower third on the graph, coming in higher than Fairview, Estacada, Troutdale, Happy Valley and Tualatin, but lower still than Lake Oswego, Milwaukie, Oregon City, Canby, Wilsonville, West Linn, Gresham and Gladstone. The proposed increases would move Sandy into the higher ranks on the graph, making it the sixth most expensive at $124.69 a month.

    City staff have projected that in the 2022-2023 budget cycle, the bill of the average 8 CCF customer could increase from $146.21 per month in 2021-2022 to $169.64 per month.

    As suggested by the planning and building department, the council also approved increases to planning fees. Where a type II subdivision now costs an average of $6,069 in fees, the increase will take it to $8,100. A type III is set to increase from $6,971 in fees to $10,420. According to the staff report presented on June 6, "this does not include other application reviews for items such as tree

    removal, FSH Overlay review, variances, etc."

    Currently, Sandy's planning fees rank it as the cheapest when compared to neighboring cities, such as Estacada, Milwaukie, Lake Oswego, Happy Valley, Wilsonville and Oregon City. With the raises, it is still depicted to be the least expensive in this comparison.

    As staff wages increase, so must the cost of utilizing staff time for public records request, or so says the city. Council OK-ed increasing the hourly rate related to records requests to "capture the true cost" of labor expended. These new rates include a $50-per-hour fee for requests requiring the work of administrative staff and an $80-per-hour fee for requests requiring the work of executive staff.

    Though the motion to increase the fees passed, Councilor Laurie Smallwood was the one dissenting vote.

    "I would like to see us refrain," Smallwood said. "I hear all of the arguments … however, currently with a 9% inflation rate, gas prices increasing daily, and in one of the highest taxed states, this is a real burden on people. This continual rate hike, which we knew was coming, it's no surprise, but I'm more in favor of waiting and holding off, even for a short period of time."

    To view the staff report detailing the upcoming fee increases, visit

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