Saturday, February 19, 2005

Clackamas River Water cancels merger with Rockwood Water PUD

Steve Mayes writes in yesterday's OREGONIAN of County Commission approval to form a new agency for Clackamas River Water:
OREGON CITY -- Clackamas River Water's plan to restructure got the blessing of Clackamas County commissioners Thursday, and the district now can take steps to protect its customer base from surrounding cities.

The district has been concerned that annexations by Happy Valley, Damascus, Gladstone or a new city that would include Oak Lodge could nibble away at the district. That would reduce the number of retail customers to cover operating costs, and possibly lead to rate increases.

To avoid that problem, Clackamas River will form a water authority, giving it legal protection against losing customers.[snip]
A public hearing before the county commission is scheduled for 10 AM on April 7. If more than 100 voters oppose changing from CRW from a water autority to a water district, the proposal will go to the ballot (presumably in May, alongside 3-164, the Oak Grove sewer merger), else the commission will approve it without further input.

Now, this memo from a meeting of August 4, 2004 suggests a District, under ORS 264, is not subject to franchise fees assessesd by cities, whereas an Authority (under ORS 450) is... so your water bills could go up under this proposal. Districts use at-large representation to elect its five commissioners; Authorities can have five to seven commissioners, but each would represent a specific area within the Authority boundaries. A city could also under specific circumstances, dissolve an Authority, which seems to be an inferior form of organization. Hmmmm.

CRW was said in that document to have 38 employees to serve an area with 51,800 people and 28,000+ voters, billing 12,800 customers with rates higher than Sunrise, Gladstone, the Oak Grove WD and Milwaukie, and it provides water to the latter two.

The Friends of the Clackamas River (sorry, no web link found, but here's a contact from this list) seem to have been tracking this issue, and have been vociferous about CRW issues in the past.

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