SC Council has long discussion over water rates

The August 20 joint Shady Cove Council and Water Task Force meeting ran over two and a half hours. However, when all was said and done the conclusion on a rate range for the proposed water system landed remarkably close to where it had been following the previous week’s joint meeting to review the Rate Study. The meeting’s length was due largely in part to the import of the topic; this was one meeting where everyone wanted to be sure their voice was heard and all options were explored and discussed before decisions were made.

Two key points drove the discussion: at the start of the meeting Mayor Ron Holthusen presented the idea that the city should consider giving folks the option of whether or not to hook into (take water from) the system. He advised several citizens had advised him they weren’t adverse to helping pay for a citywide system and might use it someday, but wanted to keep their wells unless and until “someday” came. Rates were discussed based on this proposed scenario; however the city will need to get the OK from loaning agencies before they can say with certainty hook up will be optional. Phillip Keith of the task force brought up the second key point. He advised the base rates/taxes (in whatever proportion) needed to be sufficient to cover all loan repayment. User fees should be used for Operations and Maintenance.

Still, with two ideas that at first seemed “game changers” the final rates decided upon (best guess, again, nothing can be finalized until loans are actually made) are: 75% from Base Rate and User fees, 25% from property taxes. Base Rate: $45 – $50 per month. Folks who do hook into the system would get 4500 gallons per month for that rate with 4501 gallons to 7500 gallons costing $3.00 per 1000 gallons and anything over 7500, $4.00 per 1000. The tax would be approximately $1 per $100,000 home value.

A final potential change will be the elimination of the 50 feet of line from meter to home being provided. This was included in the Master Plan, and has been discussed previously with a large variance in opinion; some feel more than 50 feet should be covered and now, especially with hook up possibly being optional the decision is leaning toward no meter to home line being provided. Councilor Leith Hayes feels it’s imperative to have the base rate/tax combo cover the full cost of “turning on the tap and getting water” but for now it seems this may not be the case.

As always, all information on all things water is available on the City’s website and questions may be emailed to the task force.


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