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City utility rates increase for those in poverty

Residents of The Dalles living within federal poverty guidelines will see their combined water and sewer rates increase by $10.95 or $6.47 per month effective July 1, the amount of increase depending on which program they qualify for.

The city council decided May 22 to raise discount rate percentages, which were set more than a decade ago. The original discounts of 10 or 35 percent, dependent upon income, had remained unchanged since that time.

“We will continue with the program, we just have to modify it,” said Councilor Tim McGlothlin at the May 12 meeting where a graduated rate schedule was adopted.

Kate Mast, finance director, had recommended the adjustment because the city was losing $155,688 in revenue during the current fiscal year. She said that number would rise to $203,776 in three years when standard rates would be higher due to a series of rate increases to fund capital improvement projects.

There are currently 205 participants in the discount program. To qualify, residents must have a total household income that does not exceed federal poverty levels for the number of people in the residence. People on the program are currently paying $22.50 or $15.48 per month for water and $16.52 or $11.18 for sewer.

Effective July 1, the first increase of 28 percent, or $10.95 more per month for what is known as Discount A, kicks in for people with incomes between 50 and 100 percent of poverty guidelines. Their combined water and sewer discount rate of $49.70 will then be a little more than half the standard $97.45.

Residents with 50 percent or less of poverty guidelines and enrolled in the Discount B program will pay 24 percent more as of July 1, or $6.47. That puts their combined discount rate at $33.13 per month.

The percentage of increase for Discount A will be 22 percent in 2012, 15 percent in 2016, 14 percent in 2017, 12 percent in 2018, 10 percent in 2019 and 9 percent in 2020. In the final year of the increases, these citizens will pay $107.38 per month compared to the regular payment of $143.17.

Discount B participants will have a 20 percent increase in 2015, followed by 14 percent in 2016, 14 percent in 2017, 13 percent in 2018, 12 percent in 2019 and 10 percent in 2020. By that time, they will be paying $71.59 per month.

The storm water rate of $2 per month is not discounted for households participating in the reduced rate program.


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