SHADY COVE — After nearly two years of fact-finding, City Council will begin a public outreach campaign to explain a proposed water system to voters.
Five town hall meetings are scheduled between now and the Nov. 6 general election so voters can have their questions answered before they vote on a $23 bond measure to authorize construction.
What: Town hall meetings about proposed Shady Cove water system
When: Sept. 17, Sept. 26, Oct. 3, Oct. 15 and Oct. 25. Each meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. and last until at least 8 p.m.
Where: Fire District No. 4 Fire Station, 21200 Highway 62, Shady Cove
Kennedy/Jenks Consultants, an engineering firm based in Portland, prepared the estimate, and City Council accepted it on a unanimous vote Thursday.
The $23 million includes a 20 percent contingency fee of nearly $4 million to cover any unanticipated costs.
The cost of the system with the contingency included would be about $26 million, but Mayor Ron Holthusen said the city will receive about $3 million in grants for the first phase of construction and will seek more grants before the second phase begins.
The bonds will mature in 40 years and be paid back with a combination of monthly water fees and property taxes, with the majority paid from fees.
Holthusen said he expects property taxes would rise between 95 cents and $1.10 per thousand dollars of assessed value, and basic water rates would run $40 to $50 a month for 4,500 gallons of water.
He said City Council and a citizen's water advisory committee are confident they have come close to what residents can expect to pay for water, but adds that an exact figure is impossible.
"Some things may not be resolved until later in the project," he said.
Holthusen said the difficulty is that many elements, such as engineering and environmental studies, haven't been completed.
You just don't have every answer today," he said. "You can't begin that until you have the money approved to begin a project. "… The only thing we can do is truthfully give all the information that we can reasonably give."
Holthusen said that if the bond measure passes, construction could begin early next year. The project would be completed in two phases. Bonds would be issued, as needed, to fund each phase, so the entire $23 million would not be bonded all at once.
Councilman Jim Ulrich said he is looking forward to the town hall meetings.
"I've had so many people ... who want finite answers," he said. "It's really tough for us, just because there are so many possibilities out there. That's the toughest thing when I'm trying to respond to our citizens."
Holthusen said Fire District No. 4 Chief Bob Miller supports a water system for the city, and that's why all town meetings will be held at the local fire station.
"A water system would make our job a whole lot easier," Miller said. "With fire hydrants in place, we could respond quicker and not have to haul a water tender out to a fire.
"Obviously the fire department is in need of water," he said, with a laugh. "That's how we fight fires, and that's why it would be good for us."
Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.