Portland utility costs on the rise again

Commissioner proposed 4.8% utility rate increase for City of Portland

Commissioner Nick Fish propsed 4.8% utility rate increase for City of Portland. February 4, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
Commissioner Nick Fish propsed 4.8% utility rate increase for City of Portland. February 4, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Nick Fish asked the City Council Wednesday to appeal a long-running utility ratepayer lawsuit against the city — the same day the commissioner asked for another utility rate increase.

City utility rates have been on the rise for years, and within the City Council Chambers, water and sewer rates have been the subject of heated debates and criticism.

Today, Portland has one of the most expensive combined water and sewer rates in the country.

“The ratepayers should be protected,” ratepayer attorney John DiLorenzo told KOIN 6 News.

Commissioner Nick Fish told KOIN 6 News he is pleased that for the second year in a row, the city’s utility increase would be less than 5%.

“When I took over utilities a couple years ago, I made a promise to my customers that I would stabilize rates,” Commissioner Fish said.

He proposed a 4.8% increase this year, which would pencil out to about $4.50 per month for the average Portland ratepayer.

“The bulk of the money we spend goes to maintaining and upgrading our existing infrastructure,” Commissioner Fish said. “If we don’t make that investment it is going to fail.”

The announcement for a rate increase comes the same day the City Council voted to challenge a judge’s ruling in a utility ratepayer lawsuit. The lawsuit claimed the city had improperly spent water and sewer funds over the years.

In regard to the lawsuit, the city claimed it is not about more freedom on how they can spend money, but instead about getting a clear explanation from a judge on what they can and can’t do.

KOIN 6 News will provide updates to this story as new information becomes available.

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