Opinion Piece

This I Do Believe

“I will do my best to make it clear.  My convictions are not so much concerned with what I am against as what I am for; and that excludes a lot of things automatically.  Traditionally, democracy has been an affirmative doctrine rather than merely a negative one.” – David Lilienthal

Four years ago I was elected on the premise of…”we can do better.”  What has transpired in these past four years?  Where can we go in the next four?

Where have we been?

  • Unfunded annual road maintenance projected over five future years has been reduced from $14.6 million to $8.4 million.
  • Funds have been set aside for the replacement of outdated (built 1979), outmoded and not earthquake resistant operations/maintenance center.  Through value engineering the estimated cost of the project has been reduced from $18 million to $13 million.  The center can be replaced using existing resources.
  • Funds have been set aside for the police/911/LOCOM building replacement. The existing facility is seismically unsafe and undersized, has an inefficient lay out, has a poor work environment and does not reflect technological changes.
  • The number of employees has been reduced even as the city’s population has grown.
  • Dollars have been set aside in case PERS legislation is invalidated.  If the legislation stands, dollars can be used for the operations/maintenance center.  If it is overturned, the city has reserves.
  • The process to sell the West End Building (WEB) has begun, thereby promising to end the millions of cash draining dollars that could be used elsewhere.
  • Engineering/design work on the Boones Ferry Road project has begun thanks to the voter approved $5 million general obligation bond.
  • Modifications to the Sensitive Lands program, acknowledged by the council and management as broken, have begun.
  • The proposed streetcar between Portland and Lake Oswego has been halted.
  • A city wide debt limit of $250 million, excluding voter approved general obligation bonds, has been approved.
  • A Comprehensive Plan that does not encourage rezoning to higher densities in neighborhoods, has been updated.
  • The unnecessary and financially risky Foothills urban renewal district has been repealed.
  • A more open and inviting atmosphere for citizen comment has been created.

Where can we go from here?

  • The five year projection for unfunded annual road maintenance dollars will be reduced to zero, using existing resources.
  • The operations/maintenance center will be rebuilt, using existing resources.
  • Police/911/LOCOM will be rebuilt, using existing resources.
  • The number of employees per thousand citizens will be at the lowest level in 24 years.
  • The WEB will be sold, thereby “freeing up” dollars for core infrastructure projects like road maintenance, surface water and pathways.  Programs and services offered at the WEB will be provided elsewhere in the city.
  • Phase 1 of the Boones Ferry road project will be well underway, if not completed, within existing resources.
  • The process will be underway for conversion of the trolley line to a bike/pedestrian line.
  • Modifications to the Sensitive Lands program, acknowledged as broken, will be completed.
  • Total city debt will be reduced even as major projects are undertaken/completed, using existing resources.
  • Work will continue to reduce the backlog of surface water capital projects.

This I do believe.  It has been a joy to serve these past fours as a member of your City Council.  I am asking for your vote to joyfully serve four more years.

Public Safety Building – The Time is Now

The City Council can potentially fund the vitally needed Police/911/LOCOM (Lake Oswego Communications) facility within existing resources.  The following vision for building and financing the Police/911/LOCOM (Lake Oswego Communications) addresses 1) why the facility needs to be built and 2) how it can be paid for within existing resources.

WhyThe existing facility is:

  • Seismically unsafe.  The need for structural stability for the police facility in the event of an earthquake is critical.  Police, along with fire department and operations/maintenance people are first responders in emergencies.  If they can’t respond and coordinate their responses, citizens will be subject to unnecessary risk.
  • Undersized – one small example.  When the gun storage locker is a converted broom closet, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.
  • Inefficient Lay Out – The police work environment is important.  It needs to be workable and utilitarian.  The current functional work flow is inefficient for today’s police force.  The existing space is not open and/or inviting to the community.  The second floor police department does not provide for much, if any street presence, a vital aspect of our community based policing motto of “no call too small.”
  • Technological Change – The current building design does not provide space to make best use of technology in policing – from servers to automated reporting to records management, the current space prevents the Department from being the best resource for our community.

How to Pay - We can rebuild LOCOM/Police/911 using Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) funds within existing resources.  The project is an approved project for which LORA funds can be used.  The LORA plan lists emergency dispatch capabilities, police and court functions as approved fundable projects.  The precedent for utilizing LORA dollars for improving and constructing public facilities was established when Lake Oswego rebuilt the downtown fire station utilizing LORA funds.  $3.5 million was set aside in the 2014/15 LORA budget.

Spending LORA dollars for LOCOM/Police/911 brings the city closer to the day of meeting an original East End district promise of 1987/1988 – closing the East End district and returning incremental property tax dollars to the general fund.  By utilizing East End LORA district dollars for LOCOM/Police/911, citizens are able to share in financial benefits of the East End urban renewal district sooner.  After 27 years and wonderful work within the East End district, it is time to develop the path for closing the district down.

Going forward – It does not make sense to ask for a voter approved general obligation bond measure to raise our property taxes for a “shared sacrifice” project when we already have “shared sacrifice” in existing property taxes, utility fees, franchise fees, etc..  The project must be value engineered.  We need to make certain the building meets seismic standards for public safety facilities.  We need to ensure every cost saving measure is employed to construct and operate the building.

Council must focus on public buildings and facilities needed to provide basic services of the city.  As the city, we provide institutions, rules and infrastructure and our citizens in their efforts provide the rest for a great community.  The projects can be done within existing resources.  Demonstrating we can do this project without asking for a tax increase is a powerful message that we are good stewards of our limited dollars.

Debt Limits

The time has come to limit the total amount of debt our city can have outstanding at any time.  By adopting an outstanding debt limit of 3% of total real market value of property in the city, the best of both worlds can be achieved – limits on total outstanding debt and flexibility to preserve and enhance infrastructure of our city.  Regardless of the debt (voter approved general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, full faith and credit bonds, line of credit or other kinds of issued debt), the city can impose reasonable limits and maintain flexibility.    Let’s examine the elements of debt limitation.

1)      Is there a current limit on any kind of city issued debt? Yes, by state law the city can’t issue general obligation (voter approved) debt exceeding 3% of the total real market property value in the city.  At this time, the total real market value of the city is approximately $7.6 billion.  State law limitation applies only to voter approved general obligation debt and not to other city issued debt.

2)      What is the current general obligation limit?  The city limit for 2014/15 is approximately $228 million.

3)      How much general obligation debt is outstanding?  The city has $11.1 million of general obligation debt outstanding.

4)      Does the general obligation debt limit change year to year?  Yes, in 18 of the last 20 years the general obligation debt limit has increased reflecting changes in the market value of property in the city.

5)      Does the city have other outstanding debt obligations?  Yes, they are: West End Building short term loan ($17.6 million outstanding); non revolving line of credit for the Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) ($2.5 million outstanding); revenue bonds for surface water and water ($8.5 million outstanding); full faith and credit bonds for wastewater, LORA and water ($174.8 million outstanding).

6)      Does the city pay down debt every year?  Yes, each year some portion of overall city debt is paid down.  At this point, all existing city debt will be repaid in 24 years.

7)      Is there additional debt issuance planned?  Yes, later this year the city will issue $5.0 million of voter approved (November 2012) debt for the Boones Ferry road project.  Within the next couple of years, completing Phase 1 of the Boones Ferry project may require an additional $17 million of debt.  If the Wizer development proceeds, approximately $5.0 million of debt will be issued.  The Public Safety project may require debt.

8)      What is the total amount of city debt outstanding? – $214.5 million as of today with plans for an additional $27 million for a total of $241.5 million.

By adopting a 3% cap ($228 million currently) of total real market value of property in the city for all outstanding city debt, the best of both worlds will be achieved – limits on total debt and the flexibility to work within the total limit.  A 3% limit obligates the city to establish priorities in what city projects should use debt to preserve and enhance city infrastructure.  Flexibility is provided as debt is paid down and/or as total market value of property generally increases each year.  As debt is repaid, the city has the opportunity to consider the use of additional city debt.

The time has come for a city imposed total debt limit.

Building Our Operations/Maintenance Center

City Council can potentially fund the Operations/Maintenance Facility within existing resources.  Funding the Operations/Maintenance Facility is one the highest 2014 Council goals.  There is nuance and trade-offs, but there is a way forward.

How to fund the project?  Value engineering, phasing and a variety of resources provide a path forward for this needed, core earthquake resistant city service.  Subject to caveats, replacement of the facility can be done in two phases over 3 – 5 years.

The capital improvement plan estimates replacement at $13 million, down from an initial estimate of $17 million.  Funding to replace the facility must be split about 38% / 62% between the general fund and public works (street, wastewater, surface water, water), although general fund contributions can be higher.

Funding sources:

1)      Unassigned General Fund Balances – There are about $5.1 million in unassigned reserves (above policy requirements) after completing fire truck and regional computer automated dispatch system funding. Dollars can be assigned/reserved to the operations/maintenance center.  Certainty – high.

2)      Wastewater Fund Existing Resources – The wastewater fund has sufficient existing resources to fund its estimated $1.9 million share for the operations/maintenance facility.  Certainty – high.

3)      PERS – Reserving the PERS differential between budgeted and actual paid.  In 2013/2014 the city budgeted as if 2013 state legislative PERS actions will not survive judicial appeals.  The difference is $1.2 million.  This is prudent, and legal analysis provided to the legislature supports PERS legislative actions passing judicial muster.  A court decision on the legislation is possible in 2015.  Future years could bring more dollars.   Certainty – medium

4)      West End Building (WEB) Payments – Another source of dollars is the $1.2 to $1.5 million the city will not be spending on yearly WEB debt and operating expenses if the WEB is sold.  Within 3 – 5 years that could be as much as $3 – $5 million. Certainty – medium.

5)      Water Fund Existing Resources – The water fund could, depending on final expenditures for the Lake Oswego/Tigard water project or by deferring existing funded projects, fund some of its share of the maintenance/operations center.  Over 3 – 5 years, dollars could range from $0.5 to $1.0 million.  Increasing water rates above current projections is not necessary at this time.  Certainty – low to medium.

6)      Future General Fund Dollars – For 2013/2014 and likely for 2014/2015 the city will budget a breakeven (revenues = expenses) budget.  Likely the city will be somewhat positive each year going forward.  Over 3 – 5 years, dollars could range from $3.0 to $4.0 million.  Going forward, “sweeping” those funds from department contingencies would have consequences for maintenance and small capital projects.  Certainty – low to medium.

7)      Street and Surface Water Funds Existing Resources – The street and surface water funds could by deferring existing funded projects, fund some of its share of the maintenance/operations center.  Over 3 – 5 years, these dollars could range from $1 to $2 million.  Doing so will require deferring needed street and surface water projects or increasing rates more than planned – not a good outcome.  Certainty – very low.

These seven sources total $15.7 to $20.2 million, which is more than the estimated $13 million needed.

Completing the operations/maintenance project without requesting a tax increase is a powerful message: we are good stewards of our limited dollars.  It just requires the will.

Financing Our Future – Part 3

The City Council can potentially fund the Police/911/LOCOM (Lake Oswego Communications) facility and operations/maintenance center within existing resources.  Let’s discuss the Police facility.  Our police department provides 911 dispatch services for our police, fire and public works departments as well as for several other cities and districts.  There is nuance and trade-offs, but there is a way forward.

The Police facility inside City Hall needs replacement for the following reasons.

1)      Seismically Unsafe and Undersized – The existing facility is seismically unsafe and undersized.  The need for structural stability for the police facility in the event of an earthquake is critical.  Police, along with fire department and operations/maintenance people are first responders in emergencies.  If they can’t respond and coordinate their response, our citizens will be subject to unnecessary risk.  Undersized – one small example.  When the gun storage locker is a converted broom closet, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

2)      Inefficient Lay Out– The functional flow of work is inefficient for today’s police force.  The existing space is not open and/or inviting to the community.  What may have worked 25 years ago, does not work today.

3)      Work Environment – The work environment for the police is important.  It needs to be workable.  Not talking luxurious, but workable.

4)      Technological Change – The current building design does not provide space to make best use of technology in policing – from servers to automated reporting to records management…..the current space prevents the Department from being the best resource for our community.

The project must be value engineered.  Exactly what level of earthquake resistance is needed?   Every means of reducing the cost of building and subsequent operating costs must be vigorously pursued.

If need has been identified…….how to pay?

We can rebuild the police facility using Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) funds with no increase in taxes.  The LORA plan lists emergency dispatch capabilities, police and court functions as approved fundable projects.

Spending LORA dollars for the facility brings the City closer to meeting an original East End district promise of 1987/1988……closing the East End district and returning incremental property tax dollars to the general fund.  By utilizing East End LORA district dollars, citizens are able to share in financial benefits of the East End urban renewal district sooner.  After 27 years and wonderful work within the East End district, it is time to develop the path for closing the district down.

It does not make sense to ask for a voter approved general obligation bond measure to raise our property taxes for a “shared sacrifice” project when we already have “shared sacrifice” in existing property taxes, utility fees, franchise fees, etc..

Council must focus on public buildings and facilities needed to provide basic services of the city.  As the city, we provide institutions, rules and infrastructure and our citizens in their efforts provide the rest for a great community.  The projects can be done within existing resources.  Demonstrating we can do these projects without asking for a tax increase is a powerful message to our citizens that we are good stewards of our limited dollars.

This vision for financing the future is not powerful because it is set forth in this column. It is powerful because it is, for all its benefits, limitations and faults, the best way forward.

Financing Our Future – Part 2

The City Council can potentially fund the maintenance/operations center and LOCOM/Police/911 within existing resources. The operations/maintenance center and LOCOM/Police/911 are part of the overall picture. There is nuance and trade-offs, but there is a way forward. This month, let’s discuss the maintenance/operations center.

The operations/maintenance facility needs replacement. The operations/maintenance building was designed in 1979 and originally occupied by a metal building manufacturing company. The City Public Works department and equipment moved into the site in 1980-81. The building is outdated, outmoded and is not earthquake resistant. Though our Public Works department takes pride in keeping the operations/maintenance facility going with “gum and duct tape”, it needs replacing in order to provide core basic service the city needs. Subject to several caveats, replacement of the facility can be done in two phases over 5 years.

Why talk about finances? Easy. Everyone can come up with visions, but.….no money, no vision. Whatever the vision is, if there is no money…….it does not matter.

The capital improvement plan estimates replacement at $17 million. Public Works staff believe we can, though value engineering, do the project for less. As a working number, let’s use $15 million for replacement cost. Funding to replace the facility must be split about 50/50 between the general fund and public works (street, wastewater, surface water, water), although general fund contributions can be higher.

Funding sources are:

1) PERS – A source of funds is reserving the PERS differential between budgeted and actually paid. By budgeting for a higher amount and paying a smaller amount, the city will build/reserve dollars potentially approaching $5 million in the next five years.

2) Unassigned General Fund Balances – Assuming sale of the West End Building (WEB), there will be about $1.5 million of existing unassigned balances in the general fund. Those dollars can be assigned/reserved for the operations/maintenance center.

3) WEB Payments no Longer Required – Another source of dollars is the $1.2 to $1.5 million the city will no longer be spending on WEB debt and operating expense. Within 5 years that could be as much as $4 to $5 million.

4) Existing Resources – Utility Funds – The wastewater fund has sufficient existing resources to fund its estimated share of the project. The street, surface water and water funds could fund its share of the project by deferring existing funded projects or using additional general fund dollars (which may require deferring other needed funded projects). Over 5 years, these dollars could range from $1 to $2 million total. The range could be more or less depending on the amount of General Fund money that is used to offset the public works dollars (street, wastewater, surface water, water) so as to avoid deferring some projects.

5) Future General Fund Dollars – For 2013/2014 the city budgeted a breakeven (revenues = expenses) general fund. It is likely the city will be somewhat positive each year going forward. If good management continues over the next 5 years, the annual surplus can be added to the reserve for the maintenance facility. This could be as much as $2 to $3 million.

Good leaders inspire, but they also perspire over the painful, difficult specifics of policy visions (the unpopular choices and tradeoffs to achieve a particular vision). The operations/maintenance center is a specific overlooked for too long.

Financing our Future – Part 1

Financing our Future – Part 1

After several years of deliberation, voter actions in November 2012 (supporting Boones Ferry/Lake Grove redevelopment and not supporting the library bond measure), City Council decisions in October 2013 (moving forward potentially selling the West End Building) and direction to staff to develop means of financing the needed work for LOCOM/Police/911 and the Operations/Maintenance Center have cleared the way to focus on known core public facility requirements.

The City Council can potentially fund these two major projects within existing resources. The LOCOM/Police/911 center and the maintenance/operations center are part of the overall picture. The many projects are part of a coherent whole, with associated trade-offs and details of how to pay for the vision. There is nuance, but there is a way forward.

I West End Building – Selling the WEB means the city will fund slightly more than the $1 million difference between the sales price and remaining loan balance. The funding source is dollars received from selling the Furnace Street property. The Furnace Street property was purchased and sold to gain one of the remaining needed easements to complete a pathway along the Willamette. Selling the WEB eliminates annual debt service and operating expense of approximately $1.2 to $1.5 million.

II LOCOM/Police/911 – The existing facility is undersized and seismically unsafe. We can rebuild LOCOM/Police/911 using Lake Oswego Redevelopment Agency (LORA) funds with no increase in taxes. The project is an approved project for which LORA funds can be used. The LORA plan lists emergency dispatch capabilities, police and court functions as approved fundable projects. The precedent for utilizing LORA dollars for improving and constructing public facilities was established when Lake Oswego rebuilt the downtown fire station utilizing LORA funds.

Spending LORA dollars for LOCOM/Police/911 brings the city closer to the day of meeting an original East End district promise of 1987/1988……closing the East End district and returning incremental property tax dollars to the general fund. By utilizing East End LORA district dollars for LOCOM/Police/911, citizens are able to share in financial benefits of the East End urban renewal district sooner. After 27 years and wonderful work within the East End district, it is time to develop the path for closing the district down.

III Operations/Maintenance Facility – The facility is held together by duct tape and chewing gum. Not really, but not far off. How can the project be funded? It involves PERS and reserves. The city has budgeted as if 2013 state legislative PERS actions will not survive judicial appeals. This is prudent, though legal analysis provided to the legislature supports PERS legislative actions passing judicial muster. By reserving/budgeting for a higher amount and paying a smaller amount, the city will build/reserve dollars potentially approaching $3 million in the next three years. Combined with existing resources in utility funds (wastewater, water, street and surface water), phasing of construction work provides a path forward for this needed, core earthquake resistant city service.

Completing two major capital/infrastructure projects without requesting a tax increase is a powerful message to our citizens — we are good stewards of our limited dollars. There is nuance, detail and trade-offs in these choices. Projects can be done logically and cost effectively. The city’s aim is to provide core infrastructure for our citizens, laying the foundation for a vibrant, healthy and great community. It just requires the will.

Support the Renewal of the Local Option Levy

Support the Renewal of the Local Option Levy

The Lake Oswego City Council unanimously supports renewing the school district’s local option levy. Why should the renewal of the local option levy be supported? Here’s why:

1) Our Lake Oswego schools are one of our most highly valued assets and a cornerstone of our community. One of the most important reasons why people move to and stay in our city are our schools. They are, without question, one of the most highly prized assets of our city. Helping to maintain our school’s excellence, helps us all.

2) The high quality of our public schools draws families to Lake Oswego and contributes to our community’s quality of life and high property values. High property values and great schools are a self-reinforcing continuous circle. By helping to maintain great schools we help to maintain a great community. By being a great community we help to maintain great schools.

3) Our citizens have shown repeated support of our schools by approving the initial local option levy in 2000 and renewing the local option levy in 2004 and 2008. This is a long and consistent voice of support for our schools – one of the foundations of our community. We have great teachers, involved and supportive parents, and students ready and willing to make the most of educational opportunities.

4) Loss of the local option levy support will reduce school funding by 10% resulting in larger class sizes and/or fewer classes offered. The local option levy provides approximately $6 million a year (about 10% of the overall total) for school funding. Loss of that funding will either increase class size or decrease class offerings.

5) The city and the school district have a long relationship in sharing resources where possible to provide efficient and cost effective delivery of services that benefit both. Be it the shared use of athletic facilities or the use of other resources, the city and the schools cooperate to provide the best possible value to the citizens.

6) Renewing the local option levy does not increase the tax rate per tax assessed value. Renewing the local option levy leaves the tax rate in place at $1.39 per thousand dollars of tax assessed value. This rate is unchanged since 2004 and will continue at the same rate with renewal.

7) Every dollar that goes into the school district is treated with great care. Whether or not you agree or disagree with any particular dollars spent, the school district exhibits about doing the right thing with the taxpayer’s money.

We, your city council representatives, unanimously support renewing the local option levy to keep Lake Oswego strong.

The Charge of the City Council

The Charge of the City Council
With apologies to Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Half a mile, half a mile,
Half a mile onward,
All in the valley of Water
Rode the City Council.
“Forward , the City Council!
Charge for the water!” they said:
Into the valley of Water
Rode the City Council.

“Forward, the City Council!”
Was there a person dismayed?
Not tho’ the councilors knew
Someone had blundered:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Water,
Rode the City Council

Critics to the right of them,
Critics to the left of them,
Critics in front of them
Volleyed and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they decided and well,
Into the jaws of votes,
Into the mouth of Sell,
Rode the City Council

Flashed all their charts bare,
Flashed as they turned in air,
Sab’ring the critics there,
Charging an army, while
All the city wondered:
Plunged in the figures smoke,
Right through the numbers they broke;
Friend and foe,
Reeled from the numbers-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not—
Not the City Council.

Critics to the right of them,
Critics to the left of them,
Critics behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While mayor and councilors fell,
That they fought so well
Came through the jaws of voting death,
Back from the mouth of Sell,
All that was left of them,
Left of the City Council.

When can their glory fade?
Oh, the wild charge they made!
All the city wondered.
Honor the charge they made!
Honor the City Council,
Noble seven councilors!

Wastewater Rates Can be Offset – A Modest Proposal

Wastewater Rates Can be Offset – A Modest Proposal

Budgeted contingencies in the wastewater (sewer) fund greatly exceed policy requirements and can be returned to the ratepayer.

There are several steps Council can take to return the wastewater contingency money to the ratepayer/taxpayer. Let’s begin with some background on where we have been, why the money should be returned and how it can be done.

Where Have We Been? In August 2007 Council recommended replacement of the backbone of the City’s wastewater collection system with a combination of pile supported pipe and a buoyant gravity flow pipeline in the lake (LOIS). The LOIS project began in 2009 and except for administrative close-out is complete. $95 million in debt was issued and is approximately equal to project cost.

Prior to beginning construction, contingency dollars were in line with policy. City policy requires contingency dollars for the wastewater fund to be minimally 10% of operational requirements (payroll, materials/services, transfers/overhead, and debt service). Prior to LOIS project approval typical bi-monthly wastewater rates were flat or had seen small increases. Substantial increases in yearly construction costs, contingency dollars and wastewater rates were coincident with LOIS construction beginning. The typical wastewater bi-monthly bill increased $5 in 2007/08, $5 in 2008/09, $18 in 2009/10, $23 in 2010/11 and $17 in 2011/12. For 2012/2013 the typical wastewater bi-monthly bill is $121.48, a yearly increase of $3.54. The biggest increases in wastewater rates coincided with specific knowledge of the LOIS project proceeding and an estimate of its cost.

Why Return the Money? Long standing City financial policy requires $1.2 million in contingency. In 2012/2013 the budget has $15.5 million in contingency. Contingency dollars can only be used for unforeseen circumstances e.g. a city wastewater pipe unexpectedly bursting. Contingency dollars can’t be used for projects which might happen at some unknown time, like modifying the Portland owned Tryon Creek wastewater plant.

The June 2012 Council approved 5 Year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) has no wastewater projects that are unfunded. Total funded project dollars in the 5 year CIP is $3.5 million. The Tryon Creek facility is not in the 5 year CIP. The Council has not decided to proceed with the Tryon Creek project other than establishing a Portland/LO working group. No timeline or dollars have been established for the project. Portland has indicated they support the upgrade of the facility but at this time are not interested in paying. Rates for LOIS did not begin their substantial increase until the project began in 2009. Clearly, the $15.5 million contingency in the wastewater fund is more than is needed.

What Can be Done? The wastewater contingency is at least $10 million overfunded. There are 13,350 utility accounts (single family, multi-family, commercial and irrigation). That means for at least 6 months (3 bills) the Council can provide a $100 credit ($300 in 6 months) to every bi-monthly account. This means every billing cycle (2 months) the contingency overfunding will be reduced by $1.3 million (13,350 accounts times $100). For a typical bi-monthly wastewater bill of $121.48, a $100 credit is substantial. After 6 months the council can renew the $100 credit until such time contingency dollars come back to a reasonable policy level.

Adopting this program or some variation will temporarily offset past increases in wastewater rates in a financially responsible way.

After all, it is the citizen’s money.