Water, sewer rates raised up

By Kelly Ducote / The Observer July 19, 2013 11:31 am

Water rates going up about 10 percent; sewer 5 percent 

The La Grande City Council votedWednesday night to increase water and sewer rates effective Aug. 1.

In a unanimous vote, councilors OK’d a 5 percent increase in sewer rates. The basic residential rate will increase by $1.69 a month to $35.56.

In a separate vote, opposed only by Mayor Daniel Pokorney, the council increased water rates by about 10 percent. The new basic residential water rate will be $16.04 a month.

Rates have been increased in eight of the last 10 years.

Councilor Gary Lillard said he generally supports the incremental increases rather than a 30-percent hike in rates since they usually reflect mandates from the state.

“But I’ll tell you at some point this is going to have to stop,” he said.

Pokorney opposed the water rate increase, saying that increase was much larger than the one for sewer rates.

“It’s a big increase. I think it’s too much,” he said.

A discount on utility services is available to low-income residents, the councilors noted.

Councilors also passed a resolution setting a fine range for Ordinance 3077, which, among other things, prohibits skating, skateboarding and bicycling on sidewalks in the central business district during business hours. The minimum fine was set at $50 with a maximum of $500. La Grande Police Chief Brian Harvey said the fine for each case will be determined by a judge.

Also during the council meeting, the city established a parcel of land on the southeast corner of Second Street and Adams Avenue as surplus with the intent to sell it. The city is soliciting sealed bids, starting at $69,900, until 5 p.m. Aug. 5.

Following the council meeting, the Urban Renewal Agency convened to fund discretionary projects. The Urban Renewal Advisory Commission met twice last month to provide recommendations to the agency for funding of the projects. After lengthy discussions, the agency opted to eliminate funding for one project while increasing funding for several others. Ten projects will receive funding totaling $275,000. Some of those projects include the construction of a new dental clinic, upper story exterior renovations to the Phoenix Building, construction of a covered parking lot structure at Benchwarmer’s and a new parking lot at Les Schwab Tire Center.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter@lgoDucote.