for the Mail Tribune

for the Mail Tribune

A request to add a 75-cent user fee to sewer accounts on behalf of at least two cities was denied by Rogue Valley Sewer Service board members on Wednesday.

Rogue Valley Sewer Services Manager Chuck Root sent a letter to city administrators in Central Point and Eagle Point following what he called "quite a discussion" about whether the sewer district had caused financial impact to cities in regular operations.

While the district, he said, was willing to compensate the cities for any real costs, board members believed a fee was unwarranted and would go against the district's mission statement of providing a cost-effective operation for customers.

"I think my board was quite concerned about anything that might increase rates for folks during this difficult economic time," Root said.

"I know that the cities have challenges right now and I'm sure they will do the best they can. Our board spent a great deal of time trying to evaluate whether or not we felt we were doing things that cost the city money. If they'd thought that were the case, I'm sure they would be very willing to reimburse for any actual expenses."

Root's letter pointed out that all 20,000 Rogue Valley sewer accounts, regardless of the condition of sewer systems in various municipalities, were standardized to bring consistent low costs to customers.

The user fee was requested by Central Point and Eagle Point city officials to pay for impacts to public-owned rights-of-way. Central Point requested the money to help with street improvements, while Eagle Point sought a way to help alleviate a $500,000 revenue shortfall caused by lack of development.

Eagle Point City Administrator David Hussell called RVS's board decision "disappointing."

"It's too bad the district is not willing to work with us," Hussell said.

"This will cost our community because we'll have to make additional cuts of $28,000 that will have to be taken out of the general fund."

Central Point City Administrator Phil Messina declined comment pending a discussion with council members.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.