July 1 Utility Bills – Hang Onto Your Wallet
Starting July 1, 2017, look for your utility bill to increase by at least $12.09 per month. Ashland’s City Council is evaluating the electric rate increase that is part of this monthly increase. What the Council isn’t telling you is that, coming this September or October, our electricity provider, BPA, will likely add their own increase to our already skyrocketing bills. Just a reminder: the utility bill surcharge for five new police officers is still on the table, as well. So you had best budget an additional $4.92 per month for your utilities.
In total, we are facing a possible $17 per month increase in our utility bills. If the Council organizes a town hall meeting where staff are asked to explain these increases, plan to attend and express your views. In particular, be sure to ask for the details in the rates that warrant the increase. Ask for justification of a $6 million oxidation ditch that won’t actually be needed for another ten years. Ask the public works department in particular to explain and support with data the need for a new water treatment plant when we have TAP water available. Ask the Council how our utility bills are allowed to become the cash cow for departments looking to fund unjustified infrastructure and PERS expenses.
Finally, ask the Budget Committee–the Council plus seven citizens–how they plan to pay for the $2.2 million PERS bill? Ask the Council what their policy is going forward to pay for this PERS expense over the next six years. This expense paid to the state is not going away and, as of now, there is no plan for how to pay for this ongoing cost.
Plan to attend the Budget Committee meetings scheduled for May 11, 18, and 25 at 6:00 pm at the City Council chamber. Remember, this is your money. Demand accountability.