By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina due sewer and water rate hikes

A public hearing on the proposed new rates will be held at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 13. The council will meet in regular session that night.

Last year, the council approved a 4.6 percent water increase and a 3 percent sewer increase. If the proposed increases are approved, water will go up $1.80 per month and sewer $1.60, with seniors receiving a discount of $1.50 and $1.40, respectively.

City Recorder Sue Hollis explained in her report to the council that the current debt for the water fund consists of two 25-year United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development loans with an estimated balance of about $983,500. Annual payments are about $66,000, she said.

The current debt for the sewer fund consists of two 40-year Oregon Infrastructure Financing Authority loans with an estimated balance of about $1.69 million. Annual payments are about $179,000.

The water intake project is a high priority item. The city was advised last year that rates were not high enough to qualify for any additional loans because repaying them would not be possible. Current rates were also not high enough  to qualify for any grants. 

The existing water fund is not self-supporting for ongoing operations and loan payments. The sewer fund has had to loan money to the water fund each year to prevent a default on loan payments.

The water fund is also facing critical infrastructure repairs and improvements, primarily to the intake and the storage tanks. The cost is expected to exceed $1 million.

The sewer fund is barely self-supporting for ongoing operations. It is unable to put aside any reserves for needed maintenance and repairs, let alone replacement.

In other action, the council:

n Appointed Justin Stritzke to the planning commission, leaving two vacancies yet to fill, and appointed Theresa McKnight and Katie Vinson to the budget committee, leaving one vacancy yet to fill.

n Adopted a resolution allowing honorary City Councilor Mariah Woodward, a Willamina High School student, to make and second motions. She does not have a vote and her position does not count toward a quorum.

n Approved the use of Tina Miller Park as a Summer Food Service Program site for the Willamina School District. A free sack lunch will be provided to any child under the age of 18 Monday through Thursday — June 17-July 25 — from 11 to 11:30 a.m.

n Approved a request by Sherry Dawkins to hold a second mud drags event this year, on either Sept. 14 or 21. Both dates are on a Saturday. The first mud drags event will be held Saturday, June 29.

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