Critics of how Portland has managed its water and sewer services have submitted initiative language that would create an independent board to oversee those utilities.

The seven-member utility board would supervise functions currently housed at the city's water and environmental services bureaus.

Kent Craford is with the initiative proponents, Portlanders for Water Reform.

"We do believe that this new independent utility board would result in lower utility rates, because if you get rid of the waste, fraud and abuse, if you get rid of the pet projects - if you get rid of all that, you have greater accountability, yes, you will have lower rates," Craford said.

Craford points to reports of improper shifting of funds and the failure of the city to escape state and federal mandates to cover reservoirs as evidence that new leadership is necessary.

But City Commissioners Steve Novick and Nick Fish oppose the idea.

Novick says the city would wind up with an "obscure board" that would be more likely to become beholden to corporate special interests.

Supporters still need to go through several steps for the proposal to become eligible for the May ballot.

This story originally appeared on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

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