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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow City council greenlights sewer rate hike

City council greenlights sewer rate hike

Increase to help repay $1.4 million loan for wastewater expansion

COVE — Residential sewer rates in Cove will jump to $45 starting March 20.

The Cove City Council unanimously passed the sewer rate increase Tuesday night in an effort to garner funds to repay the $1.4 million loan for the recently completed wastewater expansion project.  

In the new rate structure, residences, churches and business will see a $10 increase. Residences outside the city limits will pay $90, commercial users will pay $100.50 and public schools will pay $280.50. Business or commercial is determined based on usage — typically commercial users average over 20,000 gallons per month, city officials said.

The new rates were calculated based on funds needed for the annual loan payment, as well as some operation and maintenance costs, and the current number of users — about 330. Depending on final numbers, the annual payment on the $1.4 million 40-year loan will be about $58,000.

The wastewater expansion project involved creating two new storage ponds for treated wastewater. Treated wastewater from the existing treatment plant will be piped to the new storage ponds and used to irrigate crops not intended for human consumption.

The council also chose not to release surety money pertaining to the Rose Ridge II subdivision — an 11-plot development north of the cemetery in Cove off Cemetery Road. 

The subdivision developer, John Robinson, requested the city release $65,000 from a $136,250 surety fund held under the supervision of Union County. The original surety amount of $157,500 was established on June 1, 2007. Part of the money was released for the construction of the bridge on Cemetery Road.

Union County Planning Director Hanley Jenkins told that council that the county will not release the money without the council’s approval because the subdivision is being developed per city standards.

Robinson asked the city to release the funds so he could pay for asphalt roadwork that was done by Oregon Mainline Paving last fall. The council has had concerns about whether the asphalt work meets city standards. At the request of Robinson, Oregon Mainline submitted a warranty agreement for the council’s consideration.

In an effort to get the subdivision finished so that lots can be sold, the city and Robinson have created a checklist of items to be completed that include the water and sewer system.

“We’ve worked diligently to try to go through that checklist to get those items done,” said Phil Burling, who has been assisting Robinson with the project.

Councilor Regina Kruse expressed concern about releasing surety money to pay for the asphalt road before tests on the water pipeline have been completed.

“If the tests fail, we may have to rip up the road to do the work,” Kruse said.

Although a motion was made to release the surety funds, there was not enough support to bring it to a vote. After a lengthy discussion, the council opted to retain the surety money until the items listed in the agreement between the city and the developer have been completed to the city’s satisfaction.

“We need to protect anyone who is going to buy those lots. Those people are going to be citizens of Cove. We need to make sure they have safe water and a functioning sewer system,” said Mayor Lyndon Rose.

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