Council continues work on utility rates
May 19, 2022
Cathlamet town officials are getting closer to revising rates for sewer and water service, but fine tuning continues.
The town's utility rates contain inequalities, with some customers subsidizing others, and out of town customers paying higher rates than those inside the town boundaries. The council is trying to develop a schedule that combines basic rates and usage fees for consumption of water above a basic quantity.
Clerk/Treasurer Sarah Clark reported that she and Council Members Laurel Waller and Jeanne Hendrickson had spent hours working to address concerns raised at the council's previous meeting.
They had developed a plan for adding new customers; they had an alternate proposal for multi-residential and commercial accounts, and they were considering a proposal for addressing a situation at the Elochoman Slough Marina where there is an account with just water but no sewer service.
After considerable and at time heated discussion, the council voted 4-1 to instruct Town Attorney Fred Johnson to write a preliminary draft of a rate ordinance that would include the proposals. Council Members Hendrickson, Waller, CeCelia Raglin and Kermit Chamberlin supported the motion; Robert Stowe voted against it.
Stowe asked several questions about the proposed provisions, contending they were unclear and problematic. Waller tried to answer the questions, and there was back and forth discussion.
When Mayor David Olson asked for the discussion to end so that the council could consider a motion on the issue, Stowe objected.
"What it appears to me is that you're trying to high jack this meeting," Stowe said to Olson. "This is the council's meeting."
"I did not cut you off," Olson responded. "Please go on."
After more discussion, Waller made the motion to create the draft ordinance. Johnson said he could create a draft that the council could study and amend before presenting a proposed final ordinance for a public hearing.
"I believe it's premature to do this draft when we don't understand the provisions," Stowe said.
His colleagues disagreed.
"I do not agree," Chamberlin said. "I feel this council needs to have a draft ordinance in front of us to study, to tweak . . . "
"I agree we need to move forward," Raglin said.
"I think getting this draft will help us move forward," Hendrickson said, noting that she and Waller had spent hours working on the update.
"We need the draft ordinance," Waller said, and the vote came 4-1.