Sewer infrastructure has always been the missing link for Juniper Ridge, a 1,500-acre hotbed for economic development in Bend. But the proposal Bend City Councilors decided to move forward with on Wednesday night has the potential to remove that barrier.
On May 11, the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on the rate increase, which would fund the design and construction of the north interceptor and the east interceptor, creating sewer infrastructure for Juniper Ridge and other developable lands. At the same time, council is considering a move to implement the final stages of the sewer extra strength charge program.
This proposal came out of the Financial Strategy Retreat of the City of Bend City Council.
Bend City Manager Eric King said two scenarios were presented at the financial retreat for sewer revenue increase: 4.25 percent and 6 percent. Based on the comments from the council and water subgroups, as well as those that attended the strategy session, King said there was a tendency towards the 6 percent revenue increase in sewer and a faster phase in for extra strength.
“Costs are being shifted to those that have more of an impact on the system,” he said.
A 6 percent increase would equate to about 90 cents a month for average users. However, around a dozen Bend businesses, many of them breweries, will experience a large price hike on their sewer bills if the proposal passes.
The charges may provide opportunities for large sewer users to reduce their impact which would prolong the life of our sewer investments, said Carolyn Eagan, City of Bend Economic Development Director.
“The city has been working for several years with the major sewer users,” Eagan said. “Now that council has agreed to put this proposal open for comment, city staff will reach out to the businesses that will experience the largest impact.”
Juniper Ridge was originally meant to be the goose that laid the golden egg for Bend in terms of developable employment land. But the project was unable to get off the ground due to water, sewer and transportation infrastructure challenges. Approximately 194-acres of land at Juniper Ridge is inside the current UGB. This land is strategically located near the geographic workforce center of the tri-county region.
“Time will prove that Juniper Ridge is one of the key economic development assets of Bend’s future,” Roger Lee, executive director of EDCO, wrote in letter to the City of Bend in 2015.
Give your feedback on the proposed utility rates and the council’s plan for street funding on May 11 at 6 p.m. during a special city council meeting held at City Hall. For the agenda visit: http://bendoregon.gov/index.aspx?page=20&recordid=3068&returnURL=%2findex.aspx .