Fish wants 9-person Portland Utility Board

City Council may vote on plan before end of June

Commissioner Nick Fish wants more transparency and citizen input than ever before and wants a new 9-person Portland Utility Board to replace 3 existing oversight groups, June 3, 2015. (KOIN)
Commissioner Nick Fish wants more transparency and citizen input than ever before and wants a new 9-person Portland Utility Board to replace 3 existing oversight groups, June 3, 2015. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Commissioner Nick Fish wants more transparency and citizen input than ever before and wants a new 9-person Portland Utility Board to replace 3 existing oversight groups.

Fish said the board will have full-time city staff dedicated to them and they will have more long-term impact on budgets and planning of big projects than the current groups.

That would give them greater influence on water and sewer rates.

The goal is to avoid blunders such as the Bureau of Environmental Services building that cost 4 times more than originally planned.

“The public will have a better understanding of where their dollars are going. They’ll have a better understanding of why we prioritize certain capital spending,” Fish said. “There will be an opportunity for people who think we can do our work better or cheaper to have their voice heard and impact the process.”

The idea of one supercommittee with more power came from a group Fish asked to look at the bureaus he oversees. He asked them to provide suggestions on what could be done better.

Some ratepayers upset with the water and sewer hikes said they will believe it when they see a difference.

But Fish is insistent on this and the City Council will vote on the plan — possibly with a few minor changes — later this month.

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