Portland Sued Over Sewer and Water Funds
Under Oregon law, a city may provide utility services to its inhabitants “[w]hen the power to do so is conferred by or contained in its charter or act of incorporation.” (ORS 225.020). This includes providing water and sewer services “for profit” so long as the city’s charter provides and the public trust is not violated in doing so.
Portland is currently facing a lawsuit that will push the City’s water and sewer disposal expenditures to the forefront. The claimants, a group of ratepayers, assert that Portland violates the city’s charter by diverting water and sewer funds toward projects and expenditures unrelated to the provision of those services. The suit seeks an independent accounting of water and sewer disposal fund expenditures, together with an order of reimbursement.
The court will be asked to interpret key portions of Portland’s City Charter, including whether Portland’s charter restricts the City Council from using rate-payer funds to finance so-called “pet” projects. The court will also be asked to determine whether various past expenditures were reasonably related to the provision of water and sewer services.
Follow this link to an article discussing the suit: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2011/12/portland_faces_lawsuit_over_ut.html\