• Shady Cove tries again to get water system approved

  • Hoping the third time is the charm, Shady Cove officials will once again ask voters to approve a municipal water system in the largest Oregon city without one.
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  • Hoping the third time is the charm, Shady Cove officials will once again ask voters to approve a municipal water system in the largest Oregon city without one.
    Previous attempts in 1991 and 1999 went down to defeat at the polls.
    Measure 15-118, on the Nov. 6 ballot, would authorize the city of Shady Cove to spend up to $23 million in general obligation bonds to construct a water network to serve the city.
    If approved, the project would be completed in two phases. The first phase, expected to begin construction in 2015 and be completed early in 2016, would bring water to most properties north of the bridge and west of the Rogue River. The town's remaining properties would expect to receive water by the end of 2016 or early 2017.
    The system would be paid for by a combination of water-user fees and property taxes.
    Taxes would cost between 95 cents and $1.10 per thousand of assessed value, which for a home assessed at $150,000 would be $142 to $165 annually. No property tax would be assessed until the completion of the project's first phase.
    Once residents can turn on the tap and receive water, they would pay a $40 to $50 monthly fee for up to 4,500 gallons of water. Additional usage would cost $3 per thousand gallons of water up to 7,500 gallons and, above that, $4 per thousand.
    City officials have said all residents must connect to the system, but residents would be allowed to use existing wells for irrigation. More than 1,000 wells have been drilled in Shady Cove.
    The project includes the cost of connection to a residence, as long as the residence is within 50 feet of the curb.
    A network of fire hydrants is also included in the project.
    The entire system was originally estimated at $26 million, but once the project is completed, the funding agencies, USDA's Rural Utilities Service Loan Assistance program and Oregon's Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund, would forgive a combined $3 million, bringing the estimated cost down to $23 million. That figure includes a 20 percent contingency to cover unexpected construction costs.
    The city has secured the availability of $12 million in loans to finance the first phase of the system. Once phase one is underway, the city will apply for the next round of funding.
    City officials have said the $23 million will not be bonded all at once, but funds will be drawn against it, as needed, while the project is underway.
    In the city's first failed try for water in 1991, voters were asked to approve just over $5 million in bonds for a system. The city had secured a grant that would have paid 57 percent of the cost, bringing the town's obligation down to $2.2 million.
    The estimated cost in 1999 would have been $11 million. In that election, the property tax rate would have been higher at $1.68 per thousand, but the base water rate was estimated at $18.50 a month. Although the city had reduced the cost with $3.6 million in grants, voters rejected it by 100 votes.
    Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@live.com.
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