Oregon City Water Rate Charter Amendment, Measure 3-423 (May 2013)

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A Oregon City Water Rate Charter Amendment proposal was narrowly approved on the May 21, 2013, election ballot in Clackamas County, which is in Oregon.

This measure amended the Oregon City Charter to eliminate the required rollback reductions of water rates to the rates found in 1994.[1]

Election results

Measure 3-423
Approveda Yes 2,343 51.8%
These results are from Clackamas County elections office

Text of measure

Question on the ballot:

Shall the Oregon City Charter be amended to eliminate a provision requiring the setback of water rates to 1994 levels?[1][2]


Section 58 of the Oregon City Charter contains a provision that requires water rates to be set back to those in place

in 1994, with certain additional increases. This measure would eliminate this provision and allow the City’s current water rates to remain in effect.

Section 58 of the Oregon City Charter was adopted in 1996 and both limited future water rate increases to three percent annually and required water rates to be set back to 1994 rates. The resetting of the water rates did not occur in 1996 because of a court decision to protect bond holders. Those bonds are scheduled to be repaid in 2014 and, if this provision is not adopted, water rates would be set back to 1994 water rates, plus those increases of not more than three percent annually[1][2]

Explanatory Statement

In 1994, the voters of Oregon City adopted an initiative measure that limited the ability of the City Commission to raise water rates.

That provision currently reads as follows: Section 58 - Water Rates.

Upon passage of this amendment to the City Charter city water rates shall be those in effect as of October 31, 1994. The commission may not increase water rates by more than 3 percent annually without a vote of the people. The commission may not declare any ordinance or resolution establishing water rates to be an emergency nor use any other means to prevent their referral to the voters. The first sentence of that provision, requiring water rates to go back to those in effect in 1994, has not been implemented because of a federal court decision. Shortly after the measure was adopted, a group of bond holders sued the City to avoid the rate setback and ensure that their bonds could be repaid. The court ordered the City to not implement that provision until the bonds had been repaid. The bonds are scheduled to be repaid in the fall of 2014. This measure would delete the first sentence of section 58 and avoid a rate setback to 1994 levels. If the rate setback goes into effect, it would decrease water revenue by approximately 27 percent and those rates would not cover current operating costs and maintenance requirements, resulting in significant changes to the City’s water system operations and maintenance programs. This measure would eliminate the rollback of water rates to 1994 levels, plus those increases of not more than three percent annually. Any greater increase must be authorized by City voters.

Submitted by Nancy Ide
City Recorder
City of Oregon City[1][2]


Below are statements in support of this proposition:

As the chief petitioner of the 1996 initiative to amend the city charter to add section 58 requiring water rates to rollback to 1994

rates and limiting the city commission to an increase of no more than 3% without a vote of the people.

I support Measure No.3-423, Setback of Water Rates for the following reasons:

It was never the intent of our measure to roll the rate back to the 1994 level 20 years later. After passage of this measure it was challenged in federal court and the judge determined that the rates could not be rolled back due to the contracts clause of the Oregon constitution. Because the judge limited his ruling to the immediate rate rollback it will take effect in 2014 if we do not pass measure 3-423. The result of that rollback would be a drastic reduction in the revenue to the water department. This could have a dramatic negative effect on water services in Oregon City.

This measure will prevent the water system in Oregon City from having less money than it takes to run and do regular repairs. This measure will have no effect on the limitation of 3% per year increases in the rates without a vote of the people. I encourage a YES vote on Measure 3-423 to keep Oregon City’s water services strong.

Daniel W Holladay[1][2]


The citizens of Oregon City are faced with a decision that could affect their quality of life for years to come. The proposed

roll back of water rates to 1994 levels would drastically reduce the ability of the Public Works Department to deliver clean, affordable water to all of the homes and business in the city.

When this roll back was originally voted on and approved by the voters in 1996 the roll back would have been for only two years to 1994 rates. However, by a court order the rates could not be rolled back until 2014, a 20 year span of increasing costs! If the water rate is rolled back to 1994 it will decrease water revenue by approximately 27%, which will reduce the city’s ability to pay for current operating costs and maintenance of our water system. Some of the pipes in the system are over 100 years old and severely obstructed by rust and sediment.

By voting yes on this measure you will assure a reliable and healthy source of water for your personal and business needs. By VOTING YES on this measure you will be voting for rate stability. THE CURRENT RATES WILL REMAIN THE SAME AS THEY ARE TODAY, with an annual maximum allowed rate increase of 3%. We sometimes take for granted that when we turn on our water tap it will provide clean and healthy water. Your water rates pay for such things as fire hydrant repairs and replacement, drinking water treatment and water quality protection. By VOTING YES on measure #3-423 you can ensure that your water tap will continue to provide clean water and eliminate the possibility of drastically reducing water services. Please join us in voting YES to keep our water flowing.

Citizens for OC Water: R.C. “Bob” La Salle Kathy Roth, Commissioner Barbara Renken John K. Anderson Raymond Renken Betty Mumm, Commissioner Don Slack Carol Pauli, Commissioner Rocky Smith, Jr, Commissioner[1][2]


No statement was submitted in opposition to this proposition. If you have an argument that you would like posted here please email editor@ballotpedia.org.

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Clackamas County May 21, 2013 Voter’s Guide
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.