Water and sewer rates in Bend need to go up. The city needs to make improvements to meet demand now and for the future.
The Bend City Council will likely make a decision later this month about what the increase in rates will be.
The council should pick the option with the biggest initial increases. That would be a 9 percent increase for sewer and a 5 percent increase for water.
It’s the biggest initial shock, but best choice for a number of reasons.
It gives the city the money it needs now. It creates more reserves. It better protects the city’s bond rating. It provides the best cushion against shocks to the economy.
And the difference between that choice and the city’s other options are just a couple bucks a month for most people.
For instance, on the sewer rates, a 9 percent increase on sewer will mean an increase of $3.99 on each household bill in 2014. The city would be able to then quickly switch to a rate increase in 2015 that keeps pace with inflation — zero to 3 percent a year.
A second option would be to approve an increase of 6.5 percent, which translates to $2.88 a month on each household bill. The city would have to add another 6.5 percent increase in 2015 and then could switch to an inflation based rate in 2016.
The third option would be for the city to approve a 4.2 percent increase this year, which would be $1.86 on each household bill. The city would have to keep increasing by 4.2 percent until at least 2025. Then it could switch to an inflation-based rate.
Nobody likes to pay more. But the improvements are needed. The council should not shy away from supporting the biggest initial increase.