(Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to the West Linn City Council and mayor.)

Councilors and mayor:

I must first apologize for not offering an opinion sooner and perhaps helping to avoid what is likely to be a debacle. I just read a news article summarizing the ballot measure for a water rate increase going to voters in March.

It is likely to fail on many levels but I will address just a couple. The constant use of the phrase “one time water rate increase” is a sham and voters will be deeply offended by its use. It is a permanent rate increase (though the technicality is that the city is asking voters in a single vote to exceed the allowable 5 percent annual increase, but it will be every year forever).

Further, we have an educated populace that will quickly recognize the total 23 percent increase means an additional full percentage point the following year and building on that every year going forward (5 percent of 23 percent = 1.15 percent). Not to get too deep into the numbers, but it creates a defacto 6 percent annual rate increase going forward, 20 percent more than currently required to receive voter approval.

There is no debate that the water infrastructure needs attention. What would at least have a chance of passage would be a ballot measure that had a fixed period of time in which the rate increase would exist, perhaps in the form of a temporary surcharge, to fix a specific list of projects. When the projects are done, the “surcharge” should go away.

I am a strong proponent of an excellent water system. I am not in favor of a permanent slush fund.

It is with regret I will add my voice to what is likely to be a strong opposing movement. Back to the drawing board folks.

Mike Gates

Former West Linn city councilor

West Linn