Ratepayer advocates challenge water fund spending again

Civic Affairs

City Council is accused of nearly violating the court ruling they won

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Portland ratepayer advocates are fighting with the City Council again over water and sewer fund spending.

On Wednesday the council is scheduled to consider spending $1.1 million from the Washington Park Reservoir Improvement Project to pilot the administration of the Community Opportunities and Enhancements Program, which is intended to support minority business opportunity development.

In a previous lawsuit brought by ratepayer advocates, a Multnomah County Circuit Court judge ruled ratepayer funds must be spent to reasonably meet the primary missions of the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services, which operates the city’s sewer system and stormwater management programs.

The ordinance to be considered on Jan. 29 says the spending is “reasonably related to the provision of water service.” But late Tuesday afternoon, a lawyer representing ratepayer advocates wrote Mayor Ted Wheeler to say that it is not.

“Should the City proceed with the contemplated unauthorized expenditure from the protected Water Fund, ratepayers will have little option but to pursue legal remedies,” reads the letter from John DiLorenzo, who represents Citizens for Water Accountability, Trust and Reform (WATR), which successfully challenged $10 million in ratepayer spending in its previous lawsuit. 

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

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