The John Day City Council approved increasing the base rates for water and sewer for single-family residences by $1 at their Jan. 22 meeting.

The combined base rate for water and sewer for single-family homes is $85. The rates increase by $1 each year in order to build up a capital improvement fund for the city’s water and sewer systems.

The resolution for the water rate increase also clarifies language describing the city’s billing practices for past-due notices and shut-off procedures to more accurately reflect current practices, City Manager Nick Green told the council in his agenda report.

Water service could be discontinued if an account is not paid within 30 days following the statement due date. Two late-payment notices will be mailed, with the final notice at least 24 hours prior to disconnection.

Customers will be charged a $25 posting fee for the mailed notices. Water will not be turned back on until all charges are paid in full, including a $20 turn-on fee for connection during normal business hours or a $35 fee during other hours.

The resolution for the sewer rate increase also updates Canyon City’s monthly payments in 2019 from $5,612 per month to $5,873.

Green told the council that preliminary cost analysis for the proposed sewer treatment project found that overall costs increase by about 6 percent per year while the sewer rate increases by about 2 percent.

The city’s plan is to make up for that difference by increasing the number of sewer customers by attracting new residents — through the home-building incentive program and other economic development projects — and by increasing city revenue through its greenhouse project.

Construction of the greenhouses at the former Oregon Pine mill site was delayed by state construction plan reviewers, but work on foundation forms had started just before the recent snowfall. Plans call for developing the former mill site into the Innovation Gateway project.

In other city council news, Green noted that the consoles for the 911 dispatch center at the John Day Fire Hall were expected soon, and the dispatchers will move from the John Day City Hall to the fire hall in February or early March.

Councilor Steve Schuette reported that, during a recent meeting, the Intergovernmental Council that oversees the new Grant County Emergency Communications Agency agreed to donate a 20-year-old heat pump at the city hall to the city.

The IGC will retain ownership of the emergency generator at city hall but allow the city to use it if they will do the necessary maintenance, Schuette said.

Richard Hanners is a reporter for the Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be contacted at rick@bmeagle.com or 541-575-0710.

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