The Boardman City Council voted Feb. 4 to ask voters to approve a $20.3 million general obligation bond for water and wastewater projects.

According to the resolution passed Tuesday night, the question will go on the May 19 ballot. It will ask voters whether the city shall issue the bonds “to improve and expand its water and wastewater facilities” by issuing bonds not to exceed $20,320,000 that would mature within 25 years.

The ballot language to be submitted to the Morrow County clerk describes the projects the money would be used for — a water booster pump station, an approximately 1 million gallon water reservoir, a new water collector well, a 13-acre lagoon, and wastewater lift stations. The money would also help pay for acquiring land for the projects, refinancing outstanding debt and covering the cost of issuing the bonds.

If approved, the average annual property tax rate is estimated at $1.56 per $1,000 of assessed value and the bonds would mature within 25 years.

City Manager Karen Pettigrew said Thursday that passing the bond will actually save residents money. If the city were to borrow the money to complete the needed projects from a source, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she said, the agency would require the city to raise its water and sewer rates significantly before it considered making the loan. She said her combined water, sewer and garbage bill is $59.43 right now.

“We have chosen to keep our rates low,” she said.

The minutes from a Jan. 4 work session show the council listened to a presentation by engineering firm Anderson Perry & Associates about the benefits of the projects, including reliability, quality of wastewater treatment and creating room for future growth. It also cited information from David Ulbricht of the Special Districts Association of Oregon, who told city councilors that paying for the projects through water rates instead of bonds would require the city to raise its base water rate by $60 a month and sewer by $20.

Pettigrew said the city will provide detailed information about the bond to residents in the coming months.

A Jan. 28 news release from the city noted that it was “beginning talks” about expanding water and sewer projects.

“The expansion will ensure reliability in the city’s water and wastewater systems and improve fire flow,” the release stated.

The release also noted the city council had recently extended incentives for developers. The city had previously set in place a temporary waiver for water and sewer system development charges, and city councilors felt it would be beneficial to extend the waiver, which expired at the end of 2019, for another year.

The waivers operate on a sliding scale based on the number of “equivalent dwelling units” a residential or commercial project represents. Developers can call the city at 541-481-9252 for more information.

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