City News, POLITICS

AGENDA: City council to vote on utility rate increases

Salem city council chambers on Wednesday, September 30. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

Salem’s city council will vote on a plan to raise city utility rates by about 5% at a meeting Monday night.

AGENDA

The council will first hold a public hearing to gather feedback before the vote. If the council approves the increases, the new fees would take effect in January.

For a typical single-family home, that increase would raise the monthly bill about $4.69 in 2023, and another $4.88 in 2024, according to a council agenda packet. 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 increase is intended to fund “repair and replacement of aging infrastructure such as water mains, sewer pipes, and pump stations,” according to a city mailer sent to homeowners about the changes.

Councilors will also vote on extending the city’s emergency utility assistance programs through the end of 2024, and allocating $300,000 annually from utility revenue to fund the program. The program allows city residents to get help with bills or pay lower rates based on income and financial hardship. More information about the program is available on the city website.

The council will consider developing a conceptual design for a “road diet” on Northeast Capitol Street, which would reduce the number of lanes from three to two, and add a buffered bike lane. If council approves the motion, city employees would develop a design and conduct public outreach on the plan.

Councilors will also vote on a new master plan for Bailey Ridge Park, and hold a second reading of the Our Salem plan, an update to the city’s comprehensive plan which is intended to allow more mixed use development and multifamily housing in Salem. Councilors will vote on a final plan at a later meeting.

How to participate: View the meeting on YouTube or watch on CC:Media Channel 21. Submit comments on agenda items by 5 p.m. on the day of the meeting at [email protected] Public comment and testimony may also be provided during the meeting via Zoom. Pre-register between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting at the following link: https://www.cityofsalem.net/government/city-council-mayor/how-to-give-public-comment-at-salem-city-council-and-budget-committee-meetings

-Rachel Alexander