But Oregon City's facing some of the same issues: old water lines. Hacked off when the city raised water rates in 1994, citizens there amended the city's charter to require that the rates be rolled back. After a lot of legal skirmishing, it was decided that the rates would revert to roughly their 1994 levels after a bond used to finance water system improvements was repaid. That happens next year, and now city officials are pushing to amend the amendment because they still have a bunch of century-old pipes that are going to need replacing. At least they've been spending ratepayer money on the water and sewer systems, unlike their counterparts in Porkland; city "leaders" there have treated ratepayer funds as a personal piggybank for years, leading to litigation that is still in process.
Mayor Charlie Hales' proposed budget reduces water and sewer rate spending for nonessential programs by more than $3.5 million. Among other things, Hales proposes to eliminate the Bureau of Healthy Working Rivers, saving $780,000 a year in sewer rate funds, and transfer the cost of operating large park fountains to Parks & Recreation, which will save the Water Bureau $477,178 a year.
Back when Porkland City Councilor Randy Leonard was in charge of the water bureau, he spent some $1.5 million in ratepayer funds to build a nice new headquarters for the Porkland Rose Festival Association - among numerous other diversions. Before you knew it, Randy and his pal, former mayor Sammy Adams, were taking water and sewer ratepayer funds for all sorts of pet projects:
They included a program financing campaigns for public office (which Councilor Amanda Fritz used to successfully enter Portland City Council), purchasing unused land from the Riverview Cemetery, paying for the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup, and relocating water pipes in advance of transit projects.
Porkland's still saddled with hundreds of miles of old pipes, rates keep going up, and people have had just about enough: citizens, when given a chance to vote on it, killed the "publicly-owned" campaign funding, and lawsuits are going through the courts, with litigants demanding that the Portland City Council repay some $50 million to ratepayers that was illegaly frittered away on things entirely unrelated to delivery of water and sewer services.
Shortly before his unlamented departure from City Hall, the Randmeister arrogantly stated that if he had it to do over again, he would. Theft and deception have never been a problem for him. Oregon City residents should count their blessings.