HERMISTON -- The Hermiston City Council recommended this week to raise water and sewer rates to pay for a $27.2 million recycled water treatment plant.
Rather than raising rates all in one year, the council is considering raising rates gradually during a two-year period to reach a total of 16 percent by July 1, 2015, according to a city news release.
Council members will decide on just how to raise the rates, and when, at their Oct. 28 meeting.
Their plan is to raise rates in four steps by 4 percent each time. The first proposed increase would be Jan. 1, 2014, with the others coming July 1, 2014, Jan. 1, 2015 and July 1, 2015, the city said.
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Currently, Hermiston residents pay $56.38 per month.
The increases would raise their bills to $60.86 in July 2014 and to $65.78 in July 2015.
The city also pointed out that the increases are lower than rates in comparable Eastern Oregon cities of La Grande, Baker City, Ontario, Pendleton and The Dalles.
Residents of Baker City, Ore., paid $58.69 a month and residents of Pendleton paid $81.11 a month last year, the release said.
"These increases will pay for the necessary upgrades to our systems to ensure that we continue to deliver top-quality water and sewer service to our residents well into the future," said Mayor David Drotzmann in the release. "It's reassuring to see that even with the scheduled increases, Hermiston's rates remain very competitive compared to other cities."