Salem proposes 5% increase on water, waste and stormwater fees in 2023

The city of Salem’s Geren Island water treatment facility (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

The average Salem homeowner would spend about $5 more per month on city utilities in 2023 if the city council approves a suggested fee increase.

Rates for water, stormwater and wastewater services in the city would rise 5% in January 2023 if the council approves an increase, according to a mailing sent to Salem utility customers this week.

For a typical single-family home, that increase would raise the monthly bill between $4.69 and $4.88, the mailer said. Homeowners and other customers can calculate how much more they’d pay using actual usage rates from their most recent bill at bit.ly/salem-utilities, or by emailing [email protected] or calling 503-588-6211.

The city council sets utility rates every two years, so any approved increase would be in effect for 2023 and 2024. The increase is intended to fund “repair and replacement of aging infrastructure such as water mains, sewer pipes, and pump stations,” the city mailer said.

The council is holding a public hearing on the increases at 6 p.m. July 25, which can be viewed live on YouTube or CC:Media, channel 21. People may submit public comments about the proposed rate increase anytime before 5 p.m. the day of the hearing by emailing [email protected]

The city has several programs to help customers pay utility bills. Usage has increased significantly since the Covid pandemic, in part because the city council changed rules to make more people eligible for help.

-Rachel Alexander