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COOS BAY — At Tuesday night’s work session, the Coos Bay City Council discussed a 6.5 percent increase in wastewater fees for sewage customers in the City of Coos Bay.

The Budget Committee approved the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget a couple weeks back. The budgets approval included a 6.5 percent increase in sewer user rates.

The city council noted that yearly increases to sewer fees sort of come with the rugged terrain of Coos Bay, as there is a lot of infrastructure required to provide service to the Coos Bay area.

“We have a situation where we have two waste treatment facilities and 12 pump stations, and that’s just not the norm,” Coos Bay Mayor Joe Benetti said.

The city’s wastewater rate consultant recommended a 6.5 percent rate increase for next fiscal year. This recommendation was based on evaluation of the city’s forecast for wastewater operations and maintenance costs for the next year together with proposed construction projects and debt service.

The sewer fee portion on the Coos Bay-North Bend Water Board billing will increase, based upon the rate study average use of 560 cubic feet per household, approximately $4.19 per month. The revenue will provide funding for operations and maintenance, sewer line replacements, pump station rehabilitations, storm drain repairs, and the capital improvements planned for next fiscal year. Last year's rate increase was 6.4 percent.

“Every year for the past 10 years the council has known it’s going to have large expenses for updating its wastewater collection and treatment systems by between six and seven percent, so they could fund the operation of the systems as well as maintain it and make capital improvements,” Coos Bay City Manager Rodger Craddock said.

Reedsport was mentioned during Tuesday night’s meeting as having a much higher user rate for wastewater. The difference being that they have fewer users contributing to pay for its system.

One of the major costs that Coos Bay has and will face in regards to wastewater capital improvements include the new Waste Water Treatment Plant 2 and coming improvements to Waste Water Treatment Plant 1.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.

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