Utility Billing FAQs

Why did the City separate its utility billing from the Medford Water Commission?

When the Medford Water Commission first started billing on behalf of the City, sewer was the only City utility fee, which was directly related to water usage. Today there are up to eight fees, most of which have no relation to water usage. The calculations for some of the fees are quite complex and separate billing allows the City to have both accountability and responsibility for the accuracy of the utility bill. The City Council approved this change on December 6, 2012.
Are my utility fees increasing as a result of the change?

No, utility fee amounts are not changing as a result of the City performing utility billing. In fact, overall billing costs are going down by about $55,000 per year. The City previously paid the Medford Water Commission to provide utility billing and payment collection services. Those funds will now be used to pay the City’s costs of utility billing and payment processing.  
Why did my utility bill increase or decrease?

Effective July 1, 2013, the calculation of the sewer, storm drain and street fees changed. This is a separate issue from utility billing. These changes were initiated by the City Council and approved on December 20, 2012, to make Public Works utility fee simpler and more aligned with usage. Customers whose bill amounts changed by more than $10 received a letter explaining the specific changes to their bill.
Why didn’t the sewer utility fee stay with the water bill?

The City of Medford is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the sewer system, as well as for the treatment of wastewater. The Medford Water Commission will provide monthly meter readings to the City in order to determine the sewer utility fee. Billing sewer utility fees allows the City to have responsibility and accountability over the entire process.
Why is my payment being mailed to Portland?

The Medford Post Office did not have any large post office boxes available. Additionally, the City has contracted with Retail Lockbox, Inc. to process all mailed payments. This is a lower cost option than processing them ourselves. Retail Lockbox, Inc.’s banking partner is located here in Medford, but the actual payments will be processed outside of Medford.
What does the utility money pay for?

Utility fees pay for maintenance of sewer and storm drain lines, streets, parks and police and fire services. Specifically:  

Sewer:  The sewer fee pays for maintenance and upgrading the sewer collection system, as well as treating the sewage.

Storm Drain:  The storm drain fee pays for maintenance and upgrades to the storm drainage collection system.

Street Fee:  The street fee pays for maintenance of City streets.

Parks & Public Safety:  These fees pay for park development, streetscape maintenance as well as police and fire services.
How is my City of Medford utility bill calculated?

Each utility fee has its own calculation.

Sewer:  Single family customers pay a flat rate and no additional charge based on water use. All other customers pay the same base charge as single family customers, but also pay a consumption charge based on water use. Multi-family residential and certain other customers have their consumption charge based on a “winter average”; non-residential customers’ consumption is based solely on water use.

Storm Drain:  All customers pay a flat fee that reflects a property’s impact on the City’s storm drainage system. The impact is based on “impervious area”, which means surface areas that either prevent or retard the absorption of water into the surface of the soil. Examples include buildings, driveways, parking lots and gravel surfaces used for vehicular traffic. The average impervious area for single family customers in Medford was measured using Geographic Information System (GIS) software and all single family customers pay the same amount. The actual impervious area for all other customers is measured.

Street:  All customers pay a flat fee that reflects the amount of traffic generated for the property’s purpose. The City uses the Institute of Traffic Engineers (ITE) Traffic Generation manual to determine the amount of traffic generated for each residence and business.

Parks and Public Safety:  All customers pay a flat fee based on the number of dwelling units or commercial suites.
What is “Winter Averaging”?
The City recognizes that a large portion of water usage in summer months for residential customers is used to water landscaping and does not go into the sewer. To obtain a more accurate reflection of water use that goes into the sewer, the City averages water used in the winter. Water used in December, January and February is averaged over the three months and used as the basis for the sewer fee for the entire year.
Can I appeal any of the utility fees?  If so, how?

We encourage you to call our office at 541-774-2140 if you have any questions or concerns about the City of Medford’s utility bill. Customers wanting a review of the classification used to determine the street utility fee may fill out the Street Fee Classification Inquiry form, available by clicking here.
I don’t use all of these services, for example, parks.  Why do I have to pay for them?

City utility fees pay for infrastructure and services for use by everyone in the city. All residents and businesses within the city use streets, sewer and storm drain facilities; funding to operate and maintain this infrastructure is provided through the Street, Sewer and Storm Drain utility fees. Likewise, everyone benefits from police and fire protection. While hopefully you’ve never had an emergency at your location, prevention programs benefit everyone through low crime rates and reduced risk of fire. The Parks utility fee provides funds to maintain beautification areas in the City including park strips throughout Medford, the grassy area along Biddle Road, and North Medford Interchange, to name just a few. 
Additional Department Information

Utility Billing Department Contacts

411 W. 8th Street
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: (541) 774-2140
Fax: (541) 774-2552
Hours: 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

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