SUTHERLIN, Ore. -- The City of Sutherlin is changing the way they charge residents for water usage, and some are not pleased with the change.
For the past decade, Sutherlin has charged residents for the amount of water consumed, but starting this month, that will change.
Residents will be charged a smaller amount for how much water they use, but they'll have to pay a base rate.
For the average household, that's $23 a month.
Though the consumption rate is less than half the price, some houses will still be paying a lot more. "My average rate for water use only is around $8," said Sutherlin resident Dan Rivers, "and under the city plan, it's going to go up to around $30 dollars, which is almost four times, or 400% increase."
City officials say the change was necessary. "You have fixed costs that regardless of market, that are part of operating the waste water plant," said Sutherlin City Manager Jerry Gillham.
They also say not everyone will end up paying more. Those who use more than 5,800 gallons a month will see smaller bills.
Gillham says the change came about to make sure everyone was paying their part in operational costs. "The old system was, you just paid for what you use, and so people who used very little paid very little and almost nothing," he said. "The problem is, they didn't pay their proportionate fair share of keeping the plant open."
Rivers doesn't think the bill re-structuring is fair. "It's kind of absurd that people like me are being forced to carry the load of a change like this. It just isn't fair. I'm going to have to be forced to pay it, otherwise they'll shut the water off," he said.
Gillham adds that, for those who can't afford the increase, there is help available. "Part of this rate restructuring is a set-aside to help cover for costs for those that are on fixed income or struggling," he said.
Gillham says that residents who can't afford the potentially higher bills can receive vouchers from Saint Vincent de Paul, which is located right next to Sutherlin City Hall.