Utility increases on the way for Grants Pass residents

Grants Pass, Ore. — Residents in Grants Pass will be footing the bill to pay for some major public works projects. The city says there’s no way around it and water rate increases have to happen. Tonight, we’re looking at what it means for you.

“We’ve worked on these plans for a long time,” council President, Dennis Roler says, “the experts have told us what we have to do, and we have to do it.”

Grants Pass city council President, Dennis Roler, says the timing isn’t ideal.

“They just passed a county public safety levy,” Roler acknowledges.

But says the need is apparent.

“We have for instance an 86 year old water plant,” Roler says.

Public Works Director Jason Canady says its age isn’t the biggest issue.

“It is a great facility, it makes great water,” Canady says, “what we’re really really concerned about is any kind of earthquake. The building is not seismically secure and even under a small earthquake it will collapse.”

That means the current water treatment plant needs to be replaced, and estimates for a new one are about $50-millions dollars.

That, coupled with a $20-million dollar wastewater treatment plant project, and a new storm water utility charge, mean residents are going to see across the board increases for water, sewer, and storm water.

Roler says their options are gradual monthly increases over 4 years, or applying the cost all at once.
“The first year would be $61.47, up from $55,” Roler explains, “if we front loaded it, that bill would jump from $55 to about $75.”

Public works says a majority of the council was in favor of spreading it out.

“The rates will then be incremented a smaller percentage every January for the next 3 years for sewer, 4 years for water,” Canady says.

The city council will make an official decision on how to implement the increases on July 19th. Bills won’t be affected until January. The major work on the  projects will begin next July, once money starts to come in.

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