CANNON BEACH - A proposed 3-percent increase in Cannon Beach's drinking water, wastewater and stormwater rates is being proposed in next year's city budget.

If it is approved by the City Council, the rate change could take effect July 1.

The average water charge of $13.57 would increase by 41 cents; the average wastewater bill of $19.25 would rise by 58 cents and the average stormwater fee of $3.85 would go up 12 cents.

In all, the average city residential utility bill of $36.67, which includes all three water services, would increase by $1.10 a month.

The city last year raised the wastewater rates by 26 percent to make up for higher-than-expected operating expenses for the wastewater treatment plant. However, the city hasn't raised drinking water rates since 2003, said City Manager Rich Mays.

Mays said increases in salaries, supplies, capital projects and debt services caused the higher rates. State law requires these "enterprise funds," which aren't supported by property taxes, to be balanced.

Another $250,000 in transfers also will be made from the city's general fund to the drinking water and wastewater funds

Mays presented the budget to the city budget committee for the first time Tuesday night. Budget committee members will continue to consider the budget on Wednesday, May 5 and Monday, May 10. Both meetings will begin at 5:15 p.m.

In addition to the proposed rate increase, the budget also includes a new fund labeled "Tourism and Arts." The fund will contain the extra 1 percent lodging tax expected to be approved by the council on May 4. Funding from the lodging tax is anticipated to bring in $315,000, Mays said. Of that, 70 percent, or $220,500 will be distributed to a Tourism and Arts Commission to distribute as grants to be used for tourist-related activities. The remaining 30 percent, or $94,500, will stay in the general fund; some of it may be used for grants for other arts or social service organizations.

Lodging taxes make up about 70 percent of the $3.8 million general fund, which also is supported by property taxes and fees. But lodging taxes have been flat for the past two years, and Mays anticipates they will increase by only 5 percent next year, until the economy recovers and visitors book more overnight stays.

But, Mays added, although revenue hasn't increased much, Cannon Beach is still lucky.

"Most cities I've talked to are taking big hits," he said. "Some are down by 20 percent or more."

Overall, he added, the general fund, with an anticipated  $950,000 balance by June 30, is healthy, as well as the city's RV park.  Although the building fund, which gains revenue from permit fees, still has an $85,000 balance, Mays said the economy hit the fund heavily last year when building permits slowed. Total expenses for the fund are estimated to be $187,750 next year.

Anticipated capital projects for fiscal 2010-2011 include: facility improvements, $75,000; development of a citywide trail, $133,000; replacement of the downtown public restrooms, $250,000; construction of a plaza on West Second Street, $50,000; parking expansion project on East Second Street, $85,485; a police patrol vehicle, $45,000; refurbishment of the midtown public restrooms, $10,000; installation of an electric car charging station, $12,000; and development of a forest maintenance plan for the Ecola Forest Reserve, $10,000.

Another $25,000 was allocated toward a study of a proposed tsunami evacuation building, although the council earlier had agreed to consider putting $50,000 toward it.

Relocation of the city's recycling depot and of the city's water lab also is expected to cost $235,000. The depot will be moved further east on Second Street to make way for 50 additional parking spaces, and the water lab will be moved to the wastewater treatment plant east of Spruce Street.

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